Zvorwadza graft protest trial set for January

HARARE - National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe chairperson Sten Zvorwadza will stand trial in January on charges stemming from his arrest with more than a dozen other activists while protesting alleged municipal police corruption.

Zvorwadza, who has not been asked to plead to misdemeanour charges of engaging in a riot, and 13 of his members, face a minor fine if convicted. They are being charged with disorderly conduct in a public place.

The trial was postponed to January 10, because the trial magistrate was not available yesterday.

Zvorwadza and his accomplices appeared before Harare magistrate Arnold Maburo. They were represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ Jeremiah Bamu.

During their initial court appearance, the group was represented by Kennedy Masiye who complained that his clients’ constitutional rights had been infringed by police officers.

“The accused persons were not promptly informed of their charge. They were rounded up in what seemed a dragnet arrest only to be informed of the reason for arrest around 6pm,” Masiye said.

“...initially the charge was public violence but around 8pm, we were informed that it was disorderly conduct in a public place. Further to that, female accused persons were denied ablution facilities by an officer named Phiri.

“We would also want it on record that my clients were unlawfully arrested for expressing their constitutional right as enshrined in Section (59) of the Constitution for demonstrating and petitioning in a peaceful manner.”

Prosecutor Idah Maromo alleged that on July 16, Zvorwadza was in the company of a group of vendors when they decided to demonstrate.

The vendors were bitter that municipal cops looted their wares and shared them between themselves, and, in some instances would demand bribes to release the goods.

It was alleged that Zvorwadza and his members gathered at Town House holding placards that read: “Stop harassing women and children”; “Stop confiscation of our goods” and “Zvemadhisinyongoro hatichada.”

The court heard that they were dispersed by police officers.

When the vendors realised that police officers had left the scene, they reportedly regrouped and returned to Town House, led by Zvorwadza.

They reportedly demanded to see the town clerk or mayor and approached security personnel at the entrance.

The court heard that the vendors reportedly attempted to force their way into Town House offices but were restrained.

This did not stop them from singing and blocking the way for people who wanted to enter the building and conduct their business.

Police officers returned to the scene and advised the group to leave but the vendors reportedly held their hands together tightly and police had a hard time arresting them.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.