Zimbabwe: Dozens Charged With Public Violence Over Shutdown Protests As Zlhr Challenges Internet Blockade

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is congratulated by Chief Justice Luke Malaba after his inauguration (file photo).
16 January 2019

Several people have appeared in court in Zimbabwe after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers following anti-government protests held in the troubled southern African country over the deteriorating political and economic crisis.

In Bulawayo, the first batch of five people, who were arrested by ZRP officers and charged with public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, appeared at Western Commonage Magistrates Court on Tuesday 15 January 2019, where they were granted free bail.

On Wednesday 16 January 2019, lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) led by Tanaka Muganyi, secured the release of six juveniles, who were arrested together with 24 people and appeared at Western Commonage Magistrates Court facing charges of committing public violence.

At Tredgold Magistrates Court, 15 people appeared in court and were remanded in custody to Thursday 17 January 2019, where the court will make a determination on their bail application filed by their lawyers from ZLHR while 15 people from Saucertown suburb will also appear in court answering to public violence charges.

At Western Commonage Magistrates Court, Magistrate Lungile Ncube ordered ZRP officers to take Dominic Maunze to be treated at United Bulawayo Hospitals after he was mauled by some dogs when law enforcement agents arrested him.

In Harare, the first batch of people who include 60 Epworth residents represented by Nontokozo Dube-Tachiona, Kossam Ncube, Marufu Mandevere and Tinashe Mundawarara of ZLHR, appeared at Harare Magistrates Courts on Wednesday 16 January 2019 after they were arrested on Monday 14 January 2019 and charged with public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

10 residents of Mabvuku high-density suburb represented by Godfrey Mupanga of ZLHR, pleaded not guilty to charges of committing public violence when they appeared before Harare Magistrate Hosea Mujaya after they were arrested on Monday 14 January 2019 while

13 residents of Hatcliffe high-density suburb represented by Andrew Makoni and Alec Muchadehama of ZLHR also appeared at court for initial remand proceedings.

ZRP officers also arrested pro-democracy campaigner Pastor Evan Mawarire on Wednesday 16 January 2019 and detained him at Harare Central Police Station after they charged him with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

At Pastor Mawarire's residence, ZRP officers confiscated his laptop and his mobile phone handset after searching his house.

In Masvingo province, ZRP officers arrested seven employees of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development, a human rights organisation, at their offices and also arrested people in Jerera.

In Mashonaland Central province, ZRP officers arrested people in Mvurwi and Guruve districts while in Mashonaland West province, the law enforcement agents arrested people in Kadoma and Magunje.

Meanwhile, ZLHR and Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa-Zimbabwe) on Wednesday 16 January 2019 filed an urgent chamber application challenging the suspension of internet services by service providers following a directive issued by the Minister of State for State Security in President Emmerson Mnangagwa's office.

In the application, ZLHR and Misa-Zimbabwe, represented by Denford Halimani of ZLHR, argued that the internet blockade was a violation of citizens' fundamental rights including access to information enshrined in section 61 of the Constitution.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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