2 October 2018

Zimbabwe: Harare Magistrate Drops Biti's Police Reporting Bail Condition

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From left, MDC Alliance's Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti (file photo).

HARARE Magistrate Elisha Singano today varied the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC Alliance) leader (Vice Chairperson) Tendai Biti's bail condition and removed the weekly police reporting requirement. Bail conditions were changed after an application by Alec Muchadehama, a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member.

Biti initially appeared in court on 9 August 2018 after he was 'taken' by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other state security agents from Chirundu Border post (Zambian side) where he was in the process of seeking asylum. Biti had sought protection from Zambian Authorities as he feared for his life after attempts on his life, repeated harassment and intimidation of his close family members.

He was taken from the safe custody of Zambian Immigration authorities in defiance of an order of the High Court of Zambia. The defied High Court order which was applicable when he was seized, required him to appear in Lusaka before a High Court judge to have his case for continued presence in Zambia heard as his asylum application was being processed.

When Biti eventually appeared at Harare Magistrates Court on 9 August 2018, he was charged with contravening section 66(A)(1) of the Electoral Act for allegedly announcing 30 July 2018 harmonised elections Presidential results unofficially. He was also charged with committing public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

A previous attempt by Biti to retrieve his passport to enable him to travel to South Africa to receive medical treatment, as well as for him to attend a continental forum for lawyers in Africa - Pan African Lawyers Association Annual General meeting was dismissed by Magistrate Francis Mapfumo on 27 September 2018. In dismissing the application, Mapfumo said that Biti could not be trusted as he had unfinished business in Zambia. Mapfumo further stated that Biti may want to go back to Zambia to deal with this 'unfinished business' if he had access to his passport.

Today the state was represented by Prosecutor Michael Reza who put up a spirited opposition against relaxation of Biti's bail conditions (reporting to ZRP). The prosecution team has now been placed on notice and is now required to provide Biti with a trial date on his next remand date which is set for 17 October 2018.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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