The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has secured the freedom of members of the opposition arrested over the political violence that broke out in Harare immediately after the 2018 harmonised elections.
Courtesy of representation by lawyers from ZLHR, Harare Magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini on Tuesday 07 August 2018 set free 27 opposition party supporters who were arrested and charged for allegedly participating in protests staged in Harare over delays in announcing the results of the harmonised elections held last month.
The 27 people namely David Zvavamwe Shambare, Shadreck Mashayamombe, Tapiwa Joni, Ngonidzashe Makazhu, Michael Mheta, Simbarashe Mujeye, Judith Chacha, Lilian Mahosi, Anna Chezhira, Angeline Mukoki, Agatha Mubaiwa, Chancellor Nyamande, Livenice Kachana, Tichaona Daniel, Farai Nyamhunga, Mercy Mataramvura, Munyaradzi Chibanda, Samson Nerwande, Raymond Machakaire, Tapiwa Naume Khamu, Tendai Torerwa, Christopher
Nikisi, Tonderai Chakona, Justin Mugashu, Simbarashe Zvobgo, Trymore Mubaiwa and Searchmore Mutegude were arrested beginning on Thursday 02 August 2018 and charged with committing public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
ZLHR reported that prosecutors claimed that the 27 people some of whom were employed as
election agents by the MDC Alliance party during the harmonised elections and some employed as security officers at Morgan Tsvangirai House, the opposition party’s headquarters participated in public violence which broke out on Wednesday 01 August 2018 as some civilians protested against the management of the harmonised elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
But Magistrate Vhitorini on Tuesday 07 August 2018 ended their detention by setting them free on bail after their lawyers Gift Mtisi, Kossam Ncube, Lizwe Jamela and Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and James Makiyi of Makiyi and Partners Legal Practitioners applied for their release on bail after they denied that the 27 people had committed the offence of public violence as alleged by the state.
In his ruling, Magistrate Vhitorini castigated the state for bringing a “disjointed case” to court and ruled that prosecutors had failed to bring cogent evidence to convince the court that the 27 people had committed the alleged crime.
The Magistrate said Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who arrested the 27 people at Morgan Tsvangirai House and at other places had relied upon a search warrant which they obtained from court on Wednesday 01 August 2018 but which did not authorise them to effect any arrests as it clearly stated that it permitted them to search for computers, stones, firearms, ammunition and some subversive materials allegedly possessed by MDC Alliance leaders and not the accused persons.
In releasing the 27 people, Magistrate Vhitorini ordered them to pay $50 bail and report at ZRP CID Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station once a week on Fridays. He also ordered the opposition party supporters to reside at their given residential addresses and not to interfere with state witness and investigations.
Meanwhile, Kudakwashe Katuma was set to appear in court on Tuesday 07 August 2018 after she was arrested by ZRP officers on Monday 06 August 2018 and charged with public violence for allegedly participating in demonstrations staged last month over the delay in the announcement of the results for the presidential elections held on Monday 30 July 2018.