Harare Magistrate Trynos Utahwashe on Monday 18 January 2021 ended the one-week long detention of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party spokesperson Advocate Fadzayi Mahere by ordering her release from prison on RTGS$10 000 bail.

Advocate Mahere, who was arrested on Monday 11 January 2021 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members and charged with publishing or communicating a false statement with the intention of inciting or promoting public disorder or public violence or endangering public safety as defined in section 31(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, had spent seven days in both police and prison detention.

But Magistrate Utahwashe on Monday 18 January 2021 dismissed the state’s opposition to her release on bail and ruled that there were no cogent reasons presented by prosecutor Charles Muchemwa during the bail hearing to warrant depriving Advocate Mahere of her liberty and keeping her in prison until commencement of her trial.

Magistrate Utahwashe ruled that Advocate Mahere’s conduct in presenting herself to ZRP members at Harare Central Police Station, where she was eventually arrested and detained is not consistent with a person who is a flight risk and who would abscond standing trial.

The Magistrate stated that the penalty provision provided if she is convicted cannot induce anyone who is a lawyer to abscond trial. Magistrate Utahwashe said it was the conduct of ZRP members who reportedly roughed up a woman and her baby which attracted the interest of the public to a video which was allegedly circulated on social media. Advocate Mahere, Magistrate Utahwashe ruled, is not a holder of a previous conviction and has not been convicted yet on the charges of participating in a gathering with intention to promote public violence of which she was arrested in July 2020.

Besides ordering Advocate Mahere to pay RTGS$10 000 bail, Magistrate Utahwashe also ordered the legal practitioner to report once per week at Avondale Police Station, not to interfere with state witnesses, continue residing at her given residential address and to leave her passport with the Clerk of Court at Harare Magistrates Court. Advocate Mahere returns to court on 23 February 2021.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)