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MDC Alliance activists charged at hospital hearing

THREE MDC Alliance activists including Harare West Member of Parliament Joanah Mamombe were yesterday charged with breaking lockdown rules at a bedside hearing held at Parktown Hospital in Waterfalls, Harare.

Judgment on their bail application will be made today.

The three were reportedly taken by security agents from Harare Central Police Station after a flash demonstration in Warren Park, Harare, three weeks ago before they were allegedly assaulted and dumped in Bindura.

Mamombe was arrested together with Cecilia Chimbiri (31) and Netsai Marova (25). Harare Magistrite Barbra Mateko presided over the matter at the hospital where the three are receiving medical attention after sustaining serious injuries.

They are facing allegations of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace and bigotry.

The three were represented by Jeremiah Bamu and Roselyn Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who argued that the stringent bail conditions that include $2 000 and reporting three times a day at a nearest police station were "onerous conditions."

According to the State, the three defied lockdown regulations and staged a demonstration in Warren Park that had a gathering of more than 50 people including Stanley Manyenga, MDC Alliance youth assembly chairman for Harare who has also since been arrested.

Others who participated in the flash demonstration are still being sought by the police.

The State alleged that the protesters displayed placards inscribed "UNLOCK US BEFORE WE REVOLT""a visible representation that was threatening, intending to provoke the breach of peace or realising that there was a risk or possibility that a breach of peace may occur".

It is alleged that in the process, the accused persons demonstrated against the extension of COVID-19 national lockdown and alleged misuse of funds by the government.

Meanwhile, Zanu-PF has challenged the three MDC Alliance members allegedly abducted by State agents to prove their allegations or face prosecution for faking the forced disappearance.

Addressing a Press conference, Zanu-PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa, accused the three of trying to hide the truth of circumstances surrounding their alleged abduction. He accused them of refusing to co-operate with the police.

"We are saddened to hear that despite pleas by the law enforcement agents for the ladies in question to co-operate, they are reportedly unco-operative, choosing rather to communicate to NGOs, hostile news media elements and social media," Chinamasa said.

Chinamasa warned his party would not allow the alleged abduction to die a natural death, saying there should be accountability. "We call upon the ladies to understand that this is a serious matter and that the allegations they have made are serious and deserve serious attention by law enforcement agents. Zanu-PF will not allow these allegations to die a natural death,"he said.

In his statement, Chinamasa said the onus was on the victims to prove that they were abducted.

"The onus to prove that there was an abduction lies on the ladies who should provide substantive evidence of what transpired rather than being hostile to law enforcement agents.

"We find it abhorrent that to date neither the three lady complainants nor their family members or their friends have made a formal report to the police suggesting that they don't want the truth to come out,"Chinamasa said.

The MDC Alliance has since dismissed Zanu-PF and government statements on the abductions, with party secretary for foreign affairs Gladys Hlatshwayo saying because the three where taken from a police station, they could not expect the police to be impartial.

"The three were abducted at a police station by people who purported to be police officers. How can one even be able to talk to the same people who abducted her and put them through such a situation? How can the police investigate themselves? This is why we are calling for an independent investigation into the abductions,"she said.

Hlatshwayo said the police have failed to investigate the August 1, 2018 shooting where seven people were shot dead in broad daylight by armed soldiers.

"Even after a commission led by (former) South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, they have failed to arrest just one person for the killings, 49 abductions since January 2019, not a single arrest," she said.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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