Abductees Starve in Jail as Court Denies them Bail

HARARE Magistrate Bianca Makwande on Monday 15 June 2020 ordered Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) to allow three victims of abduction and torture, who she condemned to prison after denying them bail, to be allowed access to food brought by their lawyers after they complained of starvation while in detention.

Magistrate Makwande denied bail to Harare West legislator Hon. Joana Mamombe aged 27 years, Cecelia Chimbiri aged 31 years and Netsai Marova aged 25 years, who appeared before her after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police members and charged with publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The trio was also charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Magistrate Makwande told Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova that she vetoed their bail application after being convinced that there were compelling reasons not to admit them to bail.

The Magistrate who remanded the trio in custody to 26 June 2020 ordered ZPCS to allow Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova to be treated for ailments sustained when they were abducted and disappeared by some unidentified people on 13 May 2020.

The trio’s lawyers Alec Muchadehama, Jeremiah Bamu, Roselyn Hanzi and Tinomuda Shoko of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told Magistrate Makwande that their clients were starving in prison and had not eaten since Friday as ZPCS officers were not allowing them to get food coming from their lawyers when they visit them at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, where they are detained.

The abductees’ lawyers advised Magistrates Makwande that they will challenge the placement of their clients on remand when they return to court on 26 June 2020.

Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova went missing on 13 May 2020, when they were abducted in Harare and were found on 15 May 2020 after being dumped in Bindura in Mashonaland Central province.

They have already been charged with committing public violence after they were arrested on 26 May 2020 for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest against hunger during the national lockdown period as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and for contravening section 5(3) (a) as read with section 5(1) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 of Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020 and will stand trial in August.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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