TWO High Court Judges on Wednesday 2 September 2020 ended the lengthy
detention of freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform
Zimbabwe party leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who had been languishing in
prison for more than one month after they were arrested in July for
allegedly inciting people to revolt against President Emmerson
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume had spent more than one month while detained
at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after they were arrested by
Zimbabwe Republic Police members on Monday 20 July 2020 and charged
with incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote
public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in section
187(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read
with section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
The award-winning freelance journalist and the opposition political
party leader were also charged with incitement to commit public
violence as defined in section 187(1)(a) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 36(1)(a) of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors alleged that Chin’ono and Ngarivhume incited people to
revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration during
some anti-government protests called for on 31 July 2020.
On three occasions, Magistrate Ngoni Nduna and Magistrate Trynos
Utahwashe together with High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi
denied Chin’ono and Ngarivhume bail after they petitioned the courts
to be set free.
But on Wednesday 2 September 2020 Justice Siyabona Musithu ordered the
release of Ngarivhume from prison after granting him RTGS$50 000 bail
and imposing some stringent conditions which include banning him from
posting messages on his Twitter handle @jngarivhume pending the
finalisation of his matter and to report three times every week on
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at a local police station until his
matter is finalised.
Ngarivhume was also ordered to surrender his passport with the Clerk
of Court at Harare Magistrates Court and to continue residing at his
given residential address until his matter is finalised.
In arriving at the decision to set free Ngarivhume, Justice Musithu
faulted Magistrate Utahwashe for erring and misdirecting himself on 21
August 2020 in refusing to release the opposition politician on bail
as there was a change in circumstances from the time he appeared for
his initial bail hearing on 22 July 2020.
The Judge ruled that the state had failed to adduce evidence
supporting its opposition to the release of Ngarivhume on bail on the
basis that there was a formation called #31 July Movement which
intended to carry out nationwide protests beyond 31 July 2020.
Justice Chitapi also set free Chin’ono on RTGS$10 000 bail and
similarly imposed some stringent conditions such as restricting the
freelance journalist from posting on his Twitter handle namely
@daddyhope or create any Twitter account for the use of inciting the
holding of mass demonstrations for whatever purpose until his case is
Justice Chitapi, who ruled that Magistrate Nduna misdirected himself
when he denied Chin’ono bail on 24 August 2020 after initially
dismissing his first freedom bid on 24 July 2020, ordered the
freelance journalist to report at a local police station two times
every week on Mondays and Fridays, surrender title deeds to his
residential property, continue residing at his given residential
address and to surrender his passport with Clerk of Court at Harare