Nearly 100 people, arrested following Wednesday’s mass stay away, were brought before the courts in Bulawayo on Friday and some of them were granted bail while the rest will know their fate on Monday.
The main doors of the Tredgold Magistrates’ Court had to be closed for a while in the morning as scores of people jostled to be in court, to see their relatives and friends who were arrested in the wake of public protests in Bulawayo.
A total of 92 people appeared in court in the morning. Four of the 92, who are facing criminal nuisance charges were granted bail of $40 each.
The quartet was arrested when police thwarted a demonstration by a group of youth in the central business district on Wednesday. Lawyer Tanaka Muganyi confirmed to Studio 7 that the four had been granted bail and had been remanded to July 21st.
The remaining 88, three of them juveniles, are facing charges of public violence. They were arrested following Wednesday’s clashes between police and protesters.
Magistrate Evelyn Mashavakure released two of the juveniles into the custody of their guardians, while the third was sent to a juvenile centre as his guardians had not yet been located. They will appear in court again on 21st July. Mashavakure said she would give her ruling on the bail application by the remaining 85 on Monday.
Project lawyer Patience Moyo of Justice for Children condemned the keeping of juveniles in custody since Wednesday saying this is against the constitution.
During the bail hearing, prosecutor Taurai Hondo led evidence from the investigating officer, identified only as Moyo, contesting bail on the basis that the accused would abscond since the charges of public violence that they are facing are serious.
But seven lawyers, including Lison Ncube, Jonathan Tsvangirai, Dumisani Dube and Muganyi, who through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers are co-representing the group, argued that every accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that the country’s constitution gives all persons the right to bail despite the crime they may be facing.
The lawyers asked the court to grant an order that all of the accused be given a medical examination as they had been assaulted by the police while in custody. The lawyers said some of the accused, including one of the juveniles had visible assault injuries.
A further five people, who are facing similar public violence charges, were granted bail after appearing at the West Commonage Magistrates Court.
Two of the five were granted bail of $100 each, while another two got bail of $20 each and the fifth was granted free bail.
The five, being co-represented by Ncube, Tsvangirai and Muganyi, were remanded to July 21st.