The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says scores of people were arrested and detained across Zimbabwe as authorities mounted an unprecedented clampdown on protests by pro-democracy campaigners, opposition political party members and ordinary citizens voicing concern over rising corruption and a worsening economic and political crisis in the troubled southern African nation.
In a statement, the lawyers’ group said in Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other enforcement officers on Thursday arrested four people - Advent Mathuthu, Amandlenkosi Mathuthu, Tawana Muchehiwa and Tendai Masotsha - on allegations that they had generated and distributed some flyers promoting a protest on Friday.
Amandlenkosi, Mucheiwa and Masotsha were later released without a charge preferred against them while Advent, who was represented by Mehluli Dube of ZLHR appeared before Bulawayo Magistrate Tinashe Tashaya facing charges of inciting public violence.
Magistrate Tashaya set free Advent on bail and he returns to court on 19 August. Tashaya also granted bail to Mzingaye Matthew Thaka, who appeared before him on charges of public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
In court, prosecutors told the magistrate that the 21 year-old man, who was represented by Lison Ncube of ZLHR, incited some members of the public when he allegedly held a one-man demonstration carrying a placard that was calling for the release of detained freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe party leader Jacob Ngarivhume and also calling for the respect of rule of law.
He returns to court on 19 August 2020.
ZLHR has filed an urgent court application seeking an order to compel the ZRP to bring to court Mucheiwa within 72 hours.
At the same time, Collen Dhlamini of Bulawayo, who operates a printing service, was also arrested for allegedly printing some flyers allegedly promoting the Friday protest. Dhlamini, who is represented by Mehluli Dube of ZLHR, will be summoned to appear in court.
Thirty-one year-old Sanele Hanana of Bulawayo was also summoned by the ZRP following a break at her residence by some suspected state security agents carrying guns, who were looking for her husband.
Hanana, went to the police station accompanied by her lawyer Kholwani Ngwenya of ZLHR, where a statement was recorded from her.
In Plumtree, in Matabeleland South province, ZRP arrested Nhlalo Ndlovu, Precious Sibanda, Ephraim Ndlovu, Thabo Tshangule, Mudisi Moyo and one person only identified as Xolani on allegations that they were inciting people to protest and charged them with malicious damage to property. The six persons, who were represented by Jonathan Tsvangirai of ZLHR were released on summons with the police indicating that they will summon them to appear in court at a date to be advised.
In Zvishavane in Midlands province, police arrested Givemore Makandire and charged him with contravening section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly inciting public violence through printing flyers promoting the Friday protest.
In Kwekwe in Midlands province, police arrested 40 year-old Tinei Siziba and charged him with disorderly conduct as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly wearing a mask written #zanupfmustgo.
Siziba was represented by Brian Dube of ZLHR.
In Harare’s Helensvale suburb, police arrested Tsitsi Dangarembga, an internationally-acclaimed writer and filmmaker together with Judy Barnes and detained them at Harare Central Police Station for allegedly contravening section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act by participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry. The duo is represented by Charles Kwaramba and Paidamoyo Saurombe of ZLHR.
ZRP also arrested MDC Alliance political party spokesperson and lawyer, Fadzayi Mahere, together with Jessica Drury, Simon Drury, Tinashe Murapatsa, Nyasha Musendu, Tinotenda Muswe and Josee Lots in Mt. Pleasant suburb and detained them at Harare Central Police Station for allegedly contravening section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act by participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry. The seven are represented by Chris Mhike of ZLHR.
Human rights lawyer Obey Shava was also arrested and detained at Harare Central Police Station together with his clients Harare West legislator Hon. Joana Mamombe, Cecillia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova at a checkpoint mounted near the ruling ZANU PF party headquarters while they were on their way from Harare Magistrates Court to Harare Central Police Station, where the three “victims of abduction and torture” were scheduled to report to the law enforcement agents as part of their bail conditions.
Shava, Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova, who were represented by Harrison Nkomo of ZLHR, were detained for close to four hours and subjected to an identification parade, where a soldier alleged that Chimbiri verbally attacked her resulting in her being charged with disorderly conduct and released into the custody of her lawyer. Chimbiri will appear in court next Tuesday.
Shava, Mamombe and Marova were later released from police custody without any charge preferred against them.
In Arcadia suburb, Paula Besa, a resident of Sunningdale suburb in Harare was also arrested by the police Friday and charged with incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in section 187(1)(a) as read with 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
ZRP claimed that the 26 year-old Besa, who is represented by Tapiwa Muchineripi of ZLHR, staged a protest in Arcadia suburb, where he allegedly held some placards inscribed “Respect our Constitution”, “You can ignore or kill us but you will regret” and “Hope is our hero”.
In Mt Pleasant suburb, police also besieged the residence of Regis Chawatama, a lawyer, where they demanded to search his house for some placards allegedly inscribed with offensive and anti-government material.
However, the ZRP left the residence without conducting the search as Chawatama’s lawyer Kossam Ncube of ZLHR challenged them to produce a warrant of search and seizure authorising them to do so.
In Chegutu in Mashonaland West province, Edward Dzeka and Isheanesu Chimunyemba were arrested on Friday 31 and charged with contravening section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act by allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry. The duo, is represented by Douglas Chikwangwani of ZLHR.
In Masvingo, police arrested Henry Chivhanga, a disability rights activist, who is the Director of Disability Amalgamation Community Trust, and charged him with making unnecessary movement as defined in section 4(a) of Statutory Instrument 83/2020 as read with section 3(a) of Statutory Instrument 110/2020. Chivhanga is represented by Collen Maboke of ZLHR.
Masvingo Urban Ward Four Councillor Godfrey Kurauone was arrested by police Friday when he went to Masvingo Central Police Station accompanied by his lawyer Martin Mureri of ZLHR to present himself as part of his bail reporting conditions on a case of insulting President Mnangagwa.
Kurauone was charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46(2)(v) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly posting a video on an unnamed social media platform on 20 July 2020 while singing a song with the lyrics “Ichavanhoroondo kana tandererwa kubvisa Mnangagwa.”
In Karoi in Mashonaland West province, Joel Zilala was summoned by police for interrogation over a report that he allegedly filed to the law enforcement agents requesting that ZANU PF party spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa be arrested and prosecuted for inciting public violence and disturbing peace. Zilala, who was accompanied by his lawyer Unite Saizi of ZLHR, reported at ZRP Hurungwe District Headquarters, where he left his personal details as requested by the law enforcement agents.
In a statement, police said they are aware of some people and political groups that are inciting Zimbabweans to revolt against the government. The ZRP claimed in the statement that there are some people, who are said to be armed that are planning to destabilize the country. The ZRP identified one of the people with a South African contact number, who is said to be armed and recruiting people on WhatsApp to rise against the Mnangagwa government.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has described pro-democracy activists as terrorists, saying they are being assisted by the West in attempting to remove a constitutionally-elected government.