Gwisai trial continues

The trial of outspoken social rights activist, Munyaradzi Gwisai and five colleagues continued Monday with the State playing back footage of the Egypt uprisings that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak in court.


Gwisai and the other economic justice and human rights activists are facing charges of conspiracy to commit public violence or alternatively inciting public violence and participating in a gathering with the intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry.

They were intially charged with treason or plotting to unseat the government through popular revolts similar to those witnessed in Egypt and Tunisia.

Gwisai, a labour law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, is the International Socialist Organisation general-coordinator for the local chapter.

A 30-minute video footage was played back in court, including serialised reports from various news stations showing updates of events that took place in Egypt.

The State is expected to put four more witnesses on the stand before it closes its case.

Gwisai and 44 activists were arrested in February after police pounced on them as they watched television footage of popular uprisings that ousted long-serving dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.The activists have denied the charges and say they were arrested while attending a democracy and constitutionalism lecture at the ISO offices in Harare.

However, 39 of the activists, including HIV and AIDS campaigners, were freed by Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi who ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove a prima facie case against them.

This left Gwisai, anti-debt campaigner Hopewell Gumbo, student leader Welcome Zimuto, Antonater Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Eddson Chakuma facing the revised charges.

The arrest of the activists in February drew wide international condemnation of President Robert Mugabe’s government. The denunciation worsened after the activists claimed that they had been tortured while in police cells.

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