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Zimbabwe Protesters Granted Bail Amid Claims of Police Harassment

  • Taurai Shava

Residents queue to withdraw cash at a local bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 5, 2016.

Residents queue to withdraw cash at a local bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 5, 2016.

A Bulawayo magistrate has granted bail to some local people who were arrested in the wake of protests during last week’s stay away amid reports that police continue to arrest more people in connection with the demonstrations.

One of the lawyers, Tanaka Muganyi, co-representing 85 people who are facing charges of public violence, told Studio 7 that the accused were given bail of $80 each.

Muganyi said it is unfortunate that the court had set what he described as a high bail for people stating that the accused are innocent and most of them are unemployed poor people.

An additional three of the accused, who are juveniles, were granted free bail. Muganyi decried the fact that the juveniles had been put in custody together with adults and said it is important for police to be familiar with statutes that protect the rights of juveniles in cases of their arrest.

Indications are that police in Bulawayo continue to pick up more people in connection with last week’s disturbances. On Saturday, 22 people appeared in court facing the same charges of public violence. Among them were 15 juveniles.

They are accused of breaking into a supermarket in Mzilikazi and looting some goods.

Elsewhere, MDC-T vice president Thokozane Khupe has said the women’s wing of the party will stage demonstrations across the country, starting this coming Saturday in Bulawayo.

Khupe told Studio 7 over the phone that the demonstrations dubbed “Beat the Pots” campaign are in protest of the hunger that ordinary Zimbabweans are experiencing due to the ongoing economic crisis.

Khupe refuted claims that her party wants to ride on the wave of protests that occurred across the country last week, adding that the MDC-T was the first to engage in peaceful public protests.

She also dismissed as nonsensical government’s assertion that there are external forces fomenting the revolts in Zimbabwe.

Last week, Zimbabweans across the country heeded calls to stay away from work with some engaging in protests that turned violent in a number of places.

The organisers of the protests are threatening further protests if government does not respond positively to demands to reverse the ban on the importation of basic goods and stop the intended introduction of bond notes, among other issues.