Lawyers intensify Chingwizi villagers' bid for freedom

HARARE - Human rights lawyers have intensified their bid to have 29 Chingwizi villagers arrested for public violence freed from detention after filing a bail application seeking their release.

In their bid to liberate the villagers, the lawyers on Tuesday first challenged the lawfulness of their arrest and their subsequent detention, arguing that several of their constitutional rights were violated during the dragnet capture conducted by the police on Sunday and Monday.

On Wednesday, rights lawyers filed an application challenging the placement of their clients on remand on the basis that there was no reasonable suspicion that they had committed an offence. The lawyers argued that the State had failed to indicate what each and everyone of the 29 villagers did so as to link them to the commission of the offence.

However, Chiredzi magistrate Tayegwa Chibanda on Wednesday and Thursday dismissed the two applications, leaving the lawyers to file the bail application yesterday.

In their bail application, lawyers Blessing Nyamaropa, Phillip Shumba, Collin Maboke and Martin Mureri charged that the State had failed to submit compelling reasons to justify the continued detention of the 29 villagers, who include an 84-year-old man, two teenagers and a toddler.

The State opposed bail on the basis that the 29 villagers could abscond as they were not permanent residents of Chingwizi.

The lawyers said the State’s fears could be allayed by the imposition of stringent bail conditions such as reporting to the police once every week, paying a $20 deposit and not interfering with State witnesses.

Magistrate Chibanda then reserved his ruling on the bail application to today.

Meanwhile, some of the detained Chingwizi villagers’ health is at risk after going for almost one week without accessing their antiretroviral drugs.

During the bail application, the lawyers raised concern that one of the detainees Collin Tandare, who is a single parent, had left her two children, including one under the age of two years unattended.

The State also attempted to justify the incarceration of 84-year-old Kandros Purazeni, who is a village head and Ellen Muteiwa, who is detained with her baby aged one year eight months.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.