14 more activists freed

HARARE - High Court judge Happious Zhou yesterday freed 14 more suspected protesters accused of committing public violence acts and torching two State-owned vehicles during a demonstration in Harare last month.

The suspects — freed on $50 bail each — were part of 70 others that were arrested by police on allegations of committing acts of violence.

Zhou ordered the alleged protesters to report to the police once every fortnight, not to interfere with witnesses and not to commit any acts of public violence until the finalisation of the matter.

“Applicants shall not engage in any conduct or making statements that are likely to result in the breach of peace or public violence,” Zhou said.

The 14, through their lawyers Jeremiah Bamu and Tapson Dzvetero, approached the High Court after they were denied bail at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts.

Some of the suspects released on bail are Tinotenda Mhungu, Admire Mashenu, Washington Mavere, Elfigio Honzeri, Khosa Hlalanilathi and Tendai Mandimika.

The 14 were released after several others were freed on bail recently.

Prosecutor Edmore Makoto had opposed the bail application, arguing that the magistrates’ courts had not misdirected itself in denying the suspects bail.

He said the presiding magistrate, Tendai Mahwe, had considered the nature of the evidence and the magnitude of the damages before passing a ruling denying bail.

Makoto further said that the court also took into consideration the fact that the suspects would likely commit further offences while on bail.

However, Zhou said there was no justification considering that some of the suspects that were previously released on bail by the High Court also have other pending cases.

It is the State’s case that the group acted in connivance with other accused persons, who are still on the run, to start the protests of August 24, this year.

They reportedly conspired to cause sporadic public violence and set alight two State-owned motor vehicles.

The two motor vehicles belonged to the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBC).

The suspects reportedly went around the Harare central business district, destroying property and pelting police motor vehicles using stones.

They reportedly shattered “windows and looted several properties, thereby disturbing peace, security or order of the police”.

Meanwhile, a fresh attempt to have 54 protesters who were detained after staging riots in the capital freed, failed to materialise yesterday after the presiding magistrate, Vongai Muchuchuti-Guuriro, dismissed their application.

The group, represented by Trust Maanda of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, had argued that continued detention constituted selective application of the law as some of the co-accused had been released.

The new application was instituted after magistrate Mahwe, earlier this month, granted 11 protesters bail after noting that their personal circumstances provided by their respective defence lawyers were conducive for their immediate release.

However, Muchuchuti-Guuriro ruled that “The court understands that bail is a fundamental right as enshrined in the Constitution.

“However, the court cannot experiment by giving the accused persons bail on the basis of discrimination as they are facing a serious offence.”

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