Three employees of the Counseling Services Unit (CSU) arrested Monday for allegedly defacing a building were on Thursday formally charged and granted bail after appearing before a Bulawayo magistrate. The three deny the charge.
Fidelis Mudimu, Zachariah Godi and Tafadzwa Gesa were charged with causing and inflicting malicious damage to property under section 140 of the Criminal Codification Reform Act. They are now out of custody after paying $100 bail each.
The magistrate ordered them to report every Monday to the Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order Section.
Spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the release from custody of the three is welcome news.
Amnesty International led calls earlier in demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the three.
Rights groups charge that the Zanu PF arm of the government is on the offensive ahead of possible polls next year, cracking down on civil society organizations in an effort to intimidate and harass them into submission.
Director Abel Chikomo of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on Thursday condemned the police for arresting activists willy-nilly, adding that the bullying and intimidation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe must end.
"If the police had evidence against the three they would have brought them before the courts within 48 hours, but these guys were only formally charged today," said Chikomo.
Interview With Kumbirai Mafunda
Interview With Abel Chikomo
Chikomo challenged the police and prosecutor saying the property in question is in Bulawayo and the CSU employees work in Harare.
The three are senior staff members of the CSU, a registered medical clinic which provides medical and counseling services to victims of organized violence and torture.