14 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Pair Who Blocked Mugabe Motorcade Released On Bail

Two men from Bulawayo, who were arrested last Friday after they refused to give way to Robert Mugabe's motorcade, appeared separately in court on Monday and were released on $100 bail each.

Prayer Gavhanga and Newton Mlotshwa, both engineers from Bulawayo, made headlines last week after they refused to follow instructions from the lead biker in Mugabe's convoy, who ordered them to pull over. Mugabe was in Bulawayo for a graduation ceremony at the National University of Science and Technology.

Sergeant Jeche, the lead biker in the convoy, stopped his bike to block Gavhanga's car. He then walked over, took the keys from the ignition and had Gavhanga arrested.

The passenger Mlotshwa decided to act. He got out of the car and grabbed Sergeant Jeche's bike, preventing him from leaving as well. Soldiers who were in the motorcade came to Jeche's aid and arrested Mlotshwa.

Gavhanga, who was driving, appeared before magistrate Evelyn Mashavakure and was charged with "failing to comply with lawful instructions from a police officer". Appearing separately before magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa, Mlotshwa was charged with "hindering or resisting a police officer".

The pair has been praised by many people for being brave enough to challenge the police in Mugabe's convoy, who have a reputation for speeding through local streets and recently causing several deaths due to carelessness.

Political commentator Wilbert Mukori told SW Radio Africa that the public reaction shows just how Zimbabweans are feeling a sense of frustration with their lives and with the political situation that is not changing.

"People find themselves in a situation where for weeks on end there is no water. There is no electricity and nothing is going well. Then one day somebody bullies you around and says 'pull over'.

Mukori added that the pair also showed a sense of courage, in a country where people are normally too afraid to demonstrate about important issues.

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