27 accused of violence freed on bail

HARARE - MDC Alliance election agents, vendors and ordinary people who are part of 27 civilians accused of participating in a violent protest in Harare last week have been freed on $50 bail each.

The group which was represented by Human Rights lawyer Gift Mtisi made their bail application before Harare magistrate Nyasha Vitorini.

Vitorini ruled that the State had failed to furnish the court with cogent reasons for the group to be denied their liberty.

“The State’s story is so disjoint. The other group was said to have been arrested at Harvest House, others were picked from their homes and one of the accused persons (Shadreck Mashayamombe) was picked here at court yet they are claimed to be flight risks,”Vitorini said.

“The court does not deal with groups but individuals and the State ought to have treated each person’s circumstances separately and not impose the doctrine of common purpose.”

Part of the group, that include former Zanu PF MP Mashayamombe and seven women, argued that they were arrested as they went about their business in various locations in Harare on August 4 and 5.

According to defence lawyers, those arrested at Harvest House who included MDC Alliance election agents and members of staff argued they were caught up in the melee as they went about their business.

Some argued they sought refuge at the MDC headquarters when the melee broke.

Michael Mheta, who claimed to be a vendor in Mbare said he was arrested on August 3 after he made a police report on August 2 against some Zanu PF youth.

He insisted he never set his foot in town the day violence occurred.

However, State prosecutor Michael Reza opposed bail arguing the accused were likely to interfere with witnesses and manipulate evidence. Among the accused is Mashayamombe, 35, jointly charged with Tapiwa Joni, 27, Ngonidzashe Makazhu, 28, Michael Mheta, 31 and Simbarashe Mujeye, 37.

Mashayamombe and his colleagues are accused of acting in concert with 500 others and proceeding to Zanu PF headquarters along Fourth Street where they reportedly threw missiles, thereby destroying windows and 12 lights.

They are further accused of burning six cars and a Yutong bus. The allegations are that on the 1st of August, 2018 at 12:00hrs, they were part of a group of people that staged an illegal demonstration held by the MDC Alliance against an alleged delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to announce the July 30 presidential results.

The court heard that the police had to call for reinforcements which reacted to the incident and dispersed the accused persons, who ran in different directions.

It is further alleged that the accused persons went to corner Rezende Street and Bank Street and pulled down a billboard with the portrait of president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and burnt it.

They then proceeded to KFC food outlet at corner Inez Terez Street and Speke Avenue, Harare, where they stoned and damaged four large screen windows valued at $700, the court was told. They reportedly went to Pizza Inn in the same area and stoned seven large screens worth $600.

According to court papers, they further went to Baker’s Inn along First Street, Harare where they stoned and damaged 10 large windows valued at $8 000.

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