Student leaders freed on bail

MUTARE - Two Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) members who had been arrested on charges of disorderly conduct in a public place have been finally granted $100 bail each.

The duo had remained behind bars after 15 others, who are also Zinasu members, were released on bail.

Although all the 17 students were charged with disorderly conduct in a public place — as defined in Section 41(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act — Allister Pfunye and Takunda Hungwe were facing additional charges.

Pfunye is being charged with failure to notify the police of a gathering as defined in Section 25(5) of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) while Hungwe is accused of insulting or undermining the president as stated in Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Their trial was set for October 11.

The student leaders were arrested on September 24 during a meeting at Forestry Industry Training College in Penhalonga.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights legal practitioners — Tinoziva Bere, Blessing Nyamaropa and Chris Ndlovu — who are representing the students, successfully argued for their immediate release on the grounds that the State had violated the accused’s rights as provided in Section 50 of the Constitution.

The lawyers argued that the students were not promptly informed of the reasons for their arrest, as Stated in section 50 of the Constitution and section 41(a) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA).

They successfully argued that their clients must be released in accordance with Section 41(6) (c) of the CPEA.

The court heard how the dignity of female students, who were denied access to sanitary ware, was also infringed.

They also questioned how police swooped on the 17 in a gathering that had about 135 members.

The meeting sought to reflect and discuss the state of tertiary education in Zimbabwe.

Initially, Tajamuka/Sesjikile campaign spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi and fellow colleague Pride Mkono, who were scheduled to give solidarity messages as former Zinasu presidents, were also arrested but later released.

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