Trial date for 87 protestors set

BULAWAYO - The trial date for 87 protestors who were arrested early this month following allegations of public violence during the nationwide stay-away has finally been set.

Having been on remand since their arrest soon after the stay-away, there have been delays in the trial kick-off as the State apparently battled to build the case.

One of the lawyers representing the accused, Tanaka Muganyi, told the Daily News after the court session that despite finally settling for a trial date, he anticipated that the State will have a hard time to prove its case against the accused.

“We have been given a trial date . . . August 31, hopefully then trial will commence but we still anticipate difficulties because of the number of people that are involved,” Muganyi said.

“Also on the basis that we are not sure if the State will be able to avail witnesses that will indicate what each particular accused person did citing the fact that there are 87 accused persons.

“It’s going to be problematic for the State to account for each and every accused person.”

Magistrate Evelyn Mashavakuve is presiding over the case where the  accused are out on $80 bail each, an amount that human rights activists described as too high for the unemployed accused persons.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa postponed the ruling on the matter involving four youths, Alfred Dzirutwe, Mthokozisi Ncube, Robson Tera and Thembelihle Sibanda who are facing public nuisance charges.

The quartet’s defence counsel this week applied for the application for discharge at the close of the State case.

“They have been remanded to Tuesday August 2, for the ruling on the application for discharge.

“The problem that we encountered today is that the magistrate was not ready with the ruling, but we have a strong belief that the case will be discharged and the accused will be let scot-free on that day,” Muganyi said after the court session yesterday.

This comes after Muganyi and his  partner Lison Ncube gave the three police officers, who are witnesses in the case, a hard time as they failed to substantiate the charges that the quartet is facing.

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