Legal and Parliamentary Affiars Politics

Human rights campaigners endure more jail time awaiting freedom bid verdict

By Kumbirai Mafunda

Four human rights defenders (HRDs) who were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government will endure more jail time after a High Court Judge deferred delivery of his ruling on their bail application to next week.
The four HRDs namely George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo had their bail application heard by High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Thursday 30 May 2019 and Friday 31 May 2019 before he postponed the matter to Friday 7 June 2019, when he will hand down his ruling on the quartet’s freedom bid.
Justice Chitapi indicated that the alleged case against the four HRDs is a serious matter hence he needs to write a full judgment which he will deliver on Friday 7 June 2019.
Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura and Mpahlo were arrested on Monday 20 May 2019 and charged with subverting constitutional government as defined in section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors accused the quartet of travelling to Maldives on 13 May 2019, where they allegedly attended a training workshop organised by Centre for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian non-governmental organisation, with the intention of subverting a constitutionally elected government.
The State claims that during the training workshop, the four human rights campaigners, who are represented by Godfrey Mupanga and Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were trained on how to mobilise citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience and or resistance to any law during some anticipated national protests organised by some anti-government movements.
The law enforcements agents charged that Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura and Mpahlo were also trained on how to operate small arms and to evade arrest during civil unrest and on counter-intelligence and acts of terrorism.
Two other human rights campaigners namely Rita Nyampinga and Stabile Dewa, who were also arrested on Monday 27 May 2019 and charged with subverting constitutional government, appeared in court on Wednesday 29 May 2019 and were remanded in custody to Thursday 6 June 2019.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende