Rights lawyers source bail for protestors

BULAWAYO - Human rights lawyers here have gone an extra mile to fundraise for some of the 85 protesters who were picked up by police following last week’s nationwide stay-away.

Magistrate Evelyn Mashavakuwe on Monday granted 85 protestors $80 bail each, an amount which lawyers representing them described as too high considering that most of the accused were not only unemployed, but were unlawfully arrested in a dragnet.

According to Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers spokesperson Tineyi Mukwewa, 25 accused persons were by Wednesday still locked up in remand prison as they struggled to raise bail.

“On Wednesday, we managed to release 14 people and 11 remained after we had appealed for well-wishers to help and I am happy to announce that individuals, churches and some from the Diaspora have been chipping in as we needed a total $4 320 for 54 people. Of course many others had their bail paid for by their relatives,” he said.

“By today (Thursday) we hope that everybody would have been released as well-wishers have been coming forward.”

Mukwewa said as human rights lawyers, it was their duty to ensure that the freedom of every individual is respected.

“We are a non-political organisation, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the freedoms of this country because in this case, the painful part of it is that most of these people are innocent as they were picked randomly as they were going to work, at bus stops, in their houses and so forth, although we subscribe to the principle of being innocent until proven guilty.”

Seven lawyers, including Lison Ncube, Jonathan Tsvangirai, Dumisani Dube and Tanaka Muganyi, through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers are co-representing the protestors.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights this week indicated that they have stood with most of the victims, recording more than 750 people nationwide under their support.

This follows nationwide protests against the President Robert Mugabe-led regime that rocked the country last Wednesday.

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