Mtetwa, Tsvangirai staffers denied bail

HARARE - A Harare magistrate has denied human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and four MDC officials bail, arguing the prominent barrister will cause commotion if freed.

Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa yesterday also said the MDC officials were a flight risk.

The four Thabani Mpofu, Warship Dumba, Felix Matsinde and Mehluli Tshuma are Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s staff members.

They are facing charges of breaching the official secrets act, impersonating the police and possession of documents for criminal use, while Mtetwa is accused of obstructing or defeating the course of justice.

In submissions opposing bail, prosecutor Michael Reza said there was real risk of the quartet fleeing the country.

“No amount of bail or property can stop them from absconding. Their own sense of preservation will dictate whether they will run away or not,” said Reza.

Reza said despite the surrendering of passports, it is “common knowledge” that Zimbabwe’s borders are porous.

He also highlighted how the four could conceal or destroy evidence, basing the argument on how three laptops allegedly disappeared after Mtetwa’s diversionary tactics.

But, Alec Muchadehama, representing the four, said there was no tangible evidence warranting their continued incarceration.

On the other hand, Mtetwa’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu said there was no proof of the seriousness of the offence, apart from “bald, bare and unsubstantiated” allegations.

Meanwhile, the lawyers withdrew urgent chamber applications filed at the High Court seeking their clients’ immediate release.

The lawyers had argued their clients had been illegally arrested and should be released. - Helen Kadirire and Tendai Kamhungira

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