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Arrest of Civic Society Leaders Worrying Zimbabwe Lawyers Group

Zimbabwe activists in court

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says state security forces continue arresting local people and charging them for allegedly participating in organizing anti-government protests last Friday.

In a statement, the ZLHR said scores of people have already been arrested and some are in hiding in different parts of the country.

The ZLHR said in Bulawayo, police on Sunday arrested and detained four residents - Nyasha William Gwazemba, Nigel Ndlovu, Lydia Muzaba and Methembe Msipha – and charged them with participating in a public gathering with intention to cause public violence as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Gwazemba, Ndlovu, Muzaba and Msipha, who are represented by Bruce Masamvu and Kholwani Ngwenya of the ZLHR, are expected to appear in court soon.

In Chiredzi, four residents - Machirairwa Mugidho, Ropafadzo Makunike, Mellania Makara and Victor Bhogo - were detained in remand prison after they were arrested Friday and charged with contravening section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a protest in which they reportedly carried some placards with messages denouncing President Emmerson Mnangagwa such as “ZANU PF Must Go” and “Shutdown Inflation Not Innocent Citizens”.

Prosecutors said a picture showing Mugidho, Makunike, Makara and Bhogo demonstrating together with eight other unidentified people, who are yet to be arrested went viral on social media.

On Monday, ZLHR said, a magistrate at Chiredzi Magistrates Court is set to hand down a ruling on their bail application filed by the Chiredzi residents’ lawyer Martin Mureri.

In Masvingo, Ward Four Councillor Godfrey Kurauone, represented by Mureri of ZLHR, was expected to have his bail application heard before magistrate Patience Madondo.

Kurauone spent the weekend in remand prison after he was arrested last at Masvingo Central Police Station, where he had gone to present himself as part of his bail conditions.

Kurauone was charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly circulating a video on WhatsApp on 20 July showing him singing a song with the lyrics “Ichava nhoroondo kana tatenderwa nababa kubvisa President Mnangagwa pachigaro ichava nhoroondo”. Prosecutors claimed that such conduct greatly interfered with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public.

Kuraune was also charged with obstructing or endangering the free movement of persons or traffic as defined in section 38(c) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutors alleged that Kurauone on Friday blocked roads by putting stones and burnt tyres along the Gaths Mine to Chirumanzu Road for a stretch of 500 metres.

Scores of other activists have been arrested while others, including Job Sikhala of the MDC Alliance and his colleagues, are on the run.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently described the activists as terrorists who were attempting to forcibly remove a constitutionally-elected government.

Meanwhile, Mmusi Maimane, the former leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance in South Africa has started a public campaign dubbed #ZimbabweLivesMatter. Maimane is appealing to various nations to intervene in the arrests of political activists in Zimbabwe.

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