HARARE - Vendors' leader, Sten Zvorwadza, and 13 alleged accomplices yesterday gave notice of intention to have their public disorder case referred to the Constitutional Court (Con-Court).
The group — charged with disorderly conduct in a public place following a July 16, 2016 demonstration against alleged municipal police corruption — appeared before Harare magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta.
They were represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ Jeremiah Bamu.
The application for referral is on the basis that “all their actions in this matter are constitutionally protected within sections 58, 59, 60 and 61 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly, association and conscience”.
Bamu will make an oral presentation of the application on February 20.
Prosecutor, Desire Chidanire, alleged that on July 16 last year, Zvorwadza — chairperson of the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) — was in the company of a group of vendors when they decided to demonstrate against alleged corruption by municipal police.
The vendors were bitter that municipal cops looted their wares and shared it among themselves, and, in some instances, would demand bribes to release the goods.
It was alleged that Zvorwadza and his members gathered at Town House in Harare, 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, however, when they realised that the cops 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 that were stationed at the entrance.
The court heard that the vendors reportedly attempted to force their way into Town House 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.