Bulawayo — Eight Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) supporters who were arrested at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) on Sunday have been released and charges against them dropped.
The activists were arrested at a ZITF event addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. They were protesting against his involvement in the Gukurahundi genocide in the early 80s
City lawyer Dumisani Dube from Abameli Human Rights Lawyers told NewZimbabwe.com the State conceded the defence submission that their clients had no case to answer and that their constitutional rights had been violated following their arrest by the military and the police.
"After serious contestation from the defence counsel, the state concurred that the concept of free and fair trial was violated in particular the right to be told what offence or charge which was being laid against them at the time of their arrest.
"The other thing is that the military police have got no arresting powers especially on issues to do with civilians," said Dube.
The defence lawyers also objected "strongly to the torturing" of the accused while in custody by the both the military police and the police.
"Seven of the accused have been hospitalised following the torture," said Dube.
"There is strong evidence from the state doctor who was provided by the police which showed that they were seriously injured. Even on the main facts, we also advised the state that there was no offence which was committed.
"I think it was people who over reacted. So, after consulting their superiors in Harare, the prosecutors decided that as an act of law, the rights of the accused were violated."
The attorney said the activists had also been detained for more than the permitted 48 hours.
Initially, all eight were charged with undermining the authority of the President but this was later altered to disorderly conduct in a public place.