Vendors appear in court

HARARE - Sixteen vendors arrested during a municipal police crackdown appeared in court yesterday.

Netsai Maitera, 37, Loriet Chiwandikwa, 42, Rachel Gwenzi, 34, Prince Makoni, 25, Michael Mawamba, 31, Kurai Mupakamiso, 46, and 11 other vendors appeared before Harare magistrate Amanda Muridzo charged with criminal nuisance and disorderly conduct.

They were released on $30 bail and ordered to continue residing at their present residences and not interfere with witnesses until the case is finalised.

Through their lawyers Kuzivakwashe Ngodza and Gift Mtisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the group complained of police brutality and said they were denied access to treatment.

“My clients were assaulted by members of the police force during arrest and when we attended to them at Harare Central (Police Station), we were denied accessing medical facilities on their behalf. Such action is in breach of provisions of the Constitution in as far as rights of accused persons are concerned,” Mtisi said

“We were told that there was no transport to ferry them to a hospital and that using our own personal vehicles would put the force into disrepute.”

The complainant is the State represented by Alexio Manyere who is employed by Harare Metropolitan Police.

It was alleged that on December 18, Maitera and her accomplices were arrested at various points along Robert Mugabe Road and Julius Nyerere Way in Harare by municipal police in a drive to clear vendors from the Central Business District.

According to the State, vendors committed an offence by resting, sitting, standing and selling their wares on the pavements.

The court heard that by doing so, Maitera and her accomplices obstructed free movement of people in town.