Masvingo Trio Charged over MOPO, A Reincarnation of POSA

Zimbabwean authorities on Monday 17 January 2022 arrested three Masvingo residents and charged them with contravening the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) Act, which is a reincarnation of the much loathed Public Order and Security Act, which was repealed three years ago. The three Masvingo residents namely Vigisai Norupandai aged 53 years, Aleck Tabe aged 38 years and Magie Chakabuda aged 62 years, appeared at Masvingo Magistrates Court on Tuesday 18 January 2022 after they were arrested on Monday 17 January 2022 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged with contravening Section 7(5) of MOPO Act for allegedly failing to give notice of a gathering to a regulatory authority.

Prosecutors claimed that Norupandai, Tabe and Chakabuda failed to give notice of a gathering in terms of the provisions of the MOPO Act, when they allegedly gathered at Aphiri Vegetable Market in Masvingo on Sunday 16 January 2022.The trio, which was represented by Phillip Shumba of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was granted $5 000 bail each by Masvingo Magistrate Patience Madondo and ordered not to interfere with State witnesses. Norupandai, Tabe and Chakabuda return to court on 24 February 2022, where their trial is scheduled to commence.

Besides Norupandai, Tabe and Chakabuda, Manyara Irene Muyenziwa, the leader of the opposition Freedom of Rights Under Sovereign (FORUS) party and two of her lieutenants were arrested by ZRP officers on 7 September 2021 in Bulawayo and charged with contravening Section 7(5) of the MOPO Act. Muyenziwa, together with Mono Minela and Tinashe Muzamhindo were accused of failing to notify the regulating authority of a gathering when they allegedly convened a public meeting on 7 September 2021 at Stutterfords Building in Bulawayo.mThe trial of the trio, represented by Lison Ncube of ZLHR, commenced last year and will resume on Monday 24 January 2022 at Bulawayo Magistrates Court. The trial had to be adjourned after the presiding Magistrate Steven Ndlovu resigned. Patience Ndlovu is representing the State as the prosecutor.

In Masvingo, two other residents namely Langton Guvava and Phillip Mahachi on Wednesday 19 January 2022 pleaded not guilty when their trial on charges of contravening Section 7(5) of the MOPO Act commenced before Magistrate Madondo.Guvava and Mahachi are accused of failing to give notice to ZRP, which is the regulating authority, of a gathering which they reportedly convened on 19 September 2021 at Zvavahera Business Centre in Gutu in Masvingo province, where 36 people reportedly attended. Guvava and Mahachi, who are out of custody on ZWL2 500 bail each and are represented by Martin Mureri of ZLHR, return to court on Tuesday 25 January 2022 for continuation of their trial.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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