State case against protesters crumbles

As Zim court sets free four Epworth residents

Soldiers patrolled as people gathered in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday to protest a steep increase in fuel prices.CreditCreditTsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

FOUR Epworth residents have been set free after a Zimbabwean court ruled that they had been over detained by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers, who arrested and charged them with public violence
for allegedly participating in anti-government protests held last week.

The four Epworth residents namely Hamfrey Munofa aged 30 years, Lenon Kwasuwa aged 23 years and
two juveniles aged 14 and 16 years, were arrested on Monday 14 January 2019 and charged with public
violence as defined in section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors alleged that the Epworth residents committed public violence during the shutdown protests
held across the country last week.

But Harare Magistrate Obedience Matare on Friday 18 January 2019 set the quartet free after ruling that
they had been detained for more than 48 hours following their arrest in connection with the anti-government
protests.

The Epworth residents’ lawyer Webster Jiti of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had filed an
application in court arguing that ZRP officers had detained them for more than 48 hours without bringing
them to court in violation of their fundamental rights.

Magistrate Matare agreed with Jiti and ordered the release of the four Epworth residents and faulted ZRP
officers for contravening the provisions of the Constitution which compels them to take accused persons to
court not later than 48 hours after the arrest took place.

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