Zim court throws out case against anti-bond notes protesters

HARARE Magistrate Vongai Muchuchutu on Tuesday 13 December 2016 dismissed charges against six human rights defenders (HRDs) accused of participating in an anti-government protest against the introduction of bond notes in Zimbabwe.

bond-2-notesJeremiah Bamu and Dorcas Chitiyo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who represented the six HRDs namely Advocate Fadzayi Mahere aged 31 years, Nyasha Musandu aged 28 years, Henry Munangatire aged 32 years, Mudiwa Mahere aged 25 years, Talent Chademana aged 28 years, Thobekile Ncube aged 42 years, had challenged the lawfulness of the arrest of their clients and the legality of detention and placement on remand since they were not advised of the reason of arrest upon being apprehended.

Mahere, Musandu, Munangatire, Mahere, Chademana and Ncube were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on 18 November 2016 for allegedly participating in a gathering with intend to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 alternatively disorderly conduct in contravention of Section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

They spent one night inside Harare Central Police Station before they were brought to court, where ZRP officers unsuccessfully attempted to extend their detention beyond the prescribed 48 hours.

Prosecutors from the National Prosecuting Authority claimed that the six HRDs gathered at Africa Unity Square in Harare on Friday 18 November 2016 with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry by displaying some placards inscribed with protest messages against the introduction of bond notes by the government.

However, Magistrate Muchuchutu on Tuesday 13 December 2016 granted the application filed by the six HRDs and ruled that they should be removed from remand.

Magistrate Muchuchutu ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority had also failed to discharge the onus placed on the State to provide proof that the HRDs were arrested and promptly informed of their charges and rights accorded as accused persons as provided under the Constitution.

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