State security agents in Zimbabwe have raided the homes of arrested July 31st protest organizer, Jacob Ngarivhume, and investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who are facing charges of inciting public violence.
Lawyers representing the two say police and other state security agents started looking for mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets at Ngarivhume and Chin’ono’s houses in Harare without obtaining search warrants from the courts.
Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said he was not aware of the raids.
However, the lawyers said they pressed the police to seek search warrants as they wanted to seize various gadgets without court orders.
Ngarivhume and Chin’ono were arrested yesterday and are expected to appear in court Wednesday.
In a series of tweets, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the police were breaking the law by attempting to seize some documents without any court approval.
“Our lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa Gift Mtisi & @DougColtart are holding "fort" at Chin'Ono's residence where uniformed police officers were deployed last night & have maintained a presence since then. Other plain clothes police officers have stepped out … @PoliceZimbabwe want to seize Chin'ono's camera which is not covered in the search warrant & which in any event was not used in posting the tweets allegedly posted by Chin'ono.”
Indications are that the police later obtained two warrants to search and seize documents and other items at the two men’s homes.
“According to a police search warrant "granted" by Magistrate Judith Taruvinga @PoliceZimbabwe has been authorised to conduct a search at Chin'ono's residence for "any documents & other articles used to commit the offence Magistrate Judith Taruvinga also "granted" a search warrant authorising @PoliceZimbabwe to search for "any documents" at @jngarivhume residence in Waterfalls suburb in Harare.”
An update from the lawyers’ group indicated that Ngarivhume is expected to appear in court Wednesday.
“Transform Zimbabwe party leader @jngarivhume has been taken back to Harare Central Police Station & his lawyers have been advised that he will appear in court Wednesday.”
In a statement yesterday, police said the two are facing charges of inciting public violence.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe and Hopewell Chin’ono have been arrested in connection with allegations of contravening Section 187 (1) (a) as read with section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, “incitement to participate in public violence.”
Section 187 (1)(a) stipulates that “any person who, in any manner, communicates with another person intending by the communication to persuade or induce the other person to commit a crime, whether in terms of this Code or any other enactment; or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that the other person may be persuaded or induced by the communication to commit a crime, whether in terms of this Code or any other enactment; shall be guilty of incitement to commit the crime concerned.”
Section 37 subsection (1)(a)(1) also stipulates that “any person who acts together with one or more other persons present with him or her in any place or at any meeting with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of forcibly disturbing the peace, security or order of the public or any section of the public shall be guilty of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, a breach of the peace or bigotry, as the case may be, and be liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.
“The crime of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, a breach of the peace or bigotry is committed whether the action constituting it is spontaneous or planned in advance, and whether the place or meeting where it occurred is public or private.”