56 suspected protesters freed

HARARE - High Court judge Happious Zhou yesterday freed on bail 56 persons, including a 68-year-old woman, who were languishing in remand prison for nearly a month after they were arrested on public violence charges.

The 56 were arrested following the August 26 anti-President Robert Mugabe protests that rocked Harare.

Zhou ordered them to pay $30 each, reside at the addresses they provided to the court, not to interfere with investigations until the finalisation of their case, as part of their bail conditions.

The 56 who were represented by Charles Mutsahuni Chikore and Obey Shava approached the High Court after they were denied bail by Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe.

Their lawyers stated in the appeal papers that Mahwe misdirected himself.

“The learned magistrate erred and misdirected himself in denying appellants bail by relying on the ground that the investigating officer needed time to carry more investigations and hold an identification parade when he had made no finding that the release of appellants on bail would jeopardise those investigations and how that would render an investigation parade impossible,” the lawyers argued.

The lawyers described as outrageous and illogical, the decision to deny their clients bail on the basis that police needed time to investigate.

According to the appeal, several of the suspects were arrested while going about their own business and were not part of the alleged protesters.

One of the alleged protesters, 68-year-old Rihana Mhondiwa, said she was arrested while walking in town.

According to court papers, the 56 are accused of teaming up and holding a public gathering at an open space close to the Harare Magistrates’ Courts and the Interpol offices.

It is alleged that the group then conspired to proceed to the Central Business District and cause sporadic public violence.

They reportedly stoned police and privately-owned motor vehicles before setting ablaze vendors’ stalls at Copa Cabana Bus Terminus in Harare.

According to court papers, they also broke into shops and looted clothes, grocery and other items.

Comments (3)

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Martina Moloto - 23 September 2016

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Martina Moloto - 23 September 2016

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Martina Moloto - 23 September 2016

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