8 August 2018

Zimbabwe: MDCA Protesters Freed On Bail

Twenty seven suspected MDC-Alliance supporters -- who last week reportedly went on a rampage, destroying property, torching vehicles, blocking roads and attacking people in Harare's central business district (CBD) -- were yesterday freed on $50 bail each.

The gang of 19 men and eight women, including former Zanu-PF member and losing MDC-Alliance parliamentary candidate Shadreck Mashayamombe, successfully applied for bail before magistrate Mr Nyasha Vhitorini.

As part of their bail terms, the gang members were ordered to report once a week to the police, reside at their given addresses and not to interfere with witnesses and investigations.

Mr Vhitorini said the State failed to proffer cogent reasons justifying further detention of the gang members.

"According to the new Constitution, bail is a right and where the State feels that the court is supposed to deny accused person's that right, it is an onerous task for the State to provide compelling reasons in the interest of justice that will warrant the court to deny bail," he said.

He ruled out abscondment, saying some of the accused persons were picked at their workplaces and homes, while Mashayamombe was arrested at court.

"In terms of flight risk, State has not placed any special circumstances to show that they will flee," said Mr Vhitorini.

"When accused persons are brought to court, we want to know what each one of them did and what they are likely to do.

"The State should have indicated what each particular individual did, but instead the State bundled all the accused persons into a group, court does not deal with groups, but individuals. This is despite what was said by the State that it is proceeding in terms of the doctrine of common purpose. State is trying to reduce this court into a political ring."

The alleged protesters were represented by Messrs Gift Mtisi, James Makiya, Kossam Ncube, Denford Halimani and Lizwe Jamela, while Mr Michael Reza prosecuted.

It is the State's case that on August 1 at about midday, the gang, in connivance with their alleged accomplices still at large, held an illegal demonstration against the alleged delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce this year's presidential election results.

They marched in the CBD singing and chanting MDC-Alliance slogans.

It is alleged that they harassed police officers at Market Square police base before pulling down a billboard, which had the face of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and burnt it.

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