Thirteen members of the pressure group Restoration of Human Rights, who were arrested on Wednesday for protesting outside Harare High Court in support of MDC activists accused of killing a policeman in May, were charged on Friday with 'public nuisance’.
Their lawyer, Gift Mutisi told reporter VOA Studio 7 reporter Violet Gonda his clients had refused to pay admission of guilt fines, preferring to have their day in court, but eventually agreed to pay a fine of US$10 each after the police reduced their charge from that of ‘unlawful gathering’ with the intention of causing public violence to that of ‘public nuisance’ under the Criminal Codification Law Reform Act.
Mutisi said although they were demonstrating peacefully, the activists agreed to the public nuisance charge because they could not afford a prolonged legal battle or being in custody around month end.
The defense lawyer said by late Friday afternoon about five activists were still in custody waiting for their families to raise the money needed for their release.
Group spokesperson Stendrick Zvorwadza condemned the arrests describing it as a “systematic ploy by the law enforcement agents to deny Zimbabweans the right to freedom of expression.”
Restoration of Human Rights accuse the police of bias, saying that no action was taken against ZANU-PF supporters who assaulted a legislator and journalists in parliament last Saturday.