Court orders anti-Mugabe activist's immediate release

HARARE - High Court judge Justice David Mangota yesterday ordered the immediate release of anti-President Robert Mugabe activist, Linda Masarira, pictured, who has been languishing in remand prison for nearly two months.

The order is on the back of an urgent chamber application filed by Masarira’s attorney, Andrew Makoni — a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Makoni confirmed to the Daily News that Mangota declared the continued incarceration of his client “illegal”, after the State consented to the application.

“The 4th respondent (Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) shall forthwith release applicant (Masarira) from custody,” reads the court order.

“The detention of the applicant outside provisions of Section 50 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe be and is hereby declared illegal. The warrant of arrest issued by the magistrates’ court sitting at Mutare be and is hereby cancelled,” it said.

In the application, Makoni cited Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, ZPCS commissioner-general Paradzai Zimondi and Mutare Central Police Station’s officer in charge as respondents.

Masarira — detained at Chikurubi female prison — was arrested in July this year, on allegations of obstructing or endangering free movement of people or motor vehicles during protests against 92-year-old Mugabe’s rule.

She was denied bail on the basis that she was on an outstanding arrest warrant in another matter in which she is charged with disorderly conduct.

According to the lawyers, the arrest warrant was issued in June this year after Masarira failed to attend court proceedings at Mutare Magistrates’ Court.

In her defence, Masarira argued that she failed to attend the court proceedings because she was nursing wounds in the hospital after she was assaulted during a protest in Harare.

The lawyers sought to have the warrant cancelled arguing that Masarira was not in wilful default.

Masarira had unsuccessfully pleaded with the authorities to take her to Mutare Magistrates’ Court for an enquiry into her default.

Her lawyer argued that her continued detention was gross injustice.

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