Vendor unionists freed on bail

HARARE - National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe chairperson Sten Zvorwadza and 13 of his members arrested on Friday following demonstrations against alleged municipal police corruption were released on $50 bail each yesterday.

The vendors appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa charged with disorderly conduct in a public place.

“It is clear that no violence was used during the demonstration and I see no reason why the accused persons should be denied their liberty,” ruled Mugwagwa.

The group’s lawyer, Kennedy Masiye, slammed the police for failing to observe his clients’ rights when they were detained at Harare Central Police Station cells.

“Upon the accused persons’ arrest around 12pm, they were not promptly informed their charge.

“They were rounded up in what seemed a dragnet arrest only to be informed of the reason for arrest around 6pm,” Masiye said.

“…initially the charge was public violence but around 8pm we were informed that it was disorderly conduct in a public place. Further to that, female accused persons were denied ablution facilities by one officer named Phiri.

“We would also want it on record that my clients were unlawfully arrested for expressing their constitutional right as enshrined in section (59) of the Constitution of demonstrating and petitioning in a peaceful manner.”

Prosecutor Oscar Madhume had opposed bail and led the evidence of investigating officer Morgan Chafa.

“I did not get time to verify their residential addresses and the court should know that the demonstration was not peaceful as the accused persons disturbed the flow of business at Town House,” Chafa said.

According to court records, on July 16, Zvorwadza was in the company of a group of vendors when they decided to demonstrate against alleged corrupt tendencies by municipal police.

The vendors were bitter that municipal cops looted their wares and shared them between themselves, and in some instances would demand bribes to release the goods.

It was alleged that Zvorwadza and his members gathered at Town House in Harare holding placards that read: “Stop harassing women and children”, “Stop confiscating our goods” and “Zvemadhisinyongoro hatichada.”

The court heard that they were dispersed by police officers.

However, the court heard when the vendors realised that police officers had left the scene they reportedly regrouped and returned to Town House led by Zvorwadza.

They reportedly demanded to see the town clerk or mayor and approached security personnel that were at the entrance.

The court heard that vendors reportedly attempted to force their way into Town House but were restrained.

This did not stop them from singing and blocking the way for people who wanted to enter the building and conduct their business.

Police officers returned to the scene and advised the group to leave, but the vendors reportedly held their hands together tightly and police had a hard time arresting them.

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.