HARARE – The Harare Magistrate's Court on Tuesday released 27 opposition supporters who were arrested and charged with public violence shortly after Zimbabwe’s July 30 elections.
Magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini released the 27 opposition party supporters -- facing allegations of committing public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act -- on $50 (approx. R670) bail each.
Prosecutors argued that the accused, most of whom served as MDC-Alliance election agents during the elections, and some who are opposition party employees stationed at Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House (formerly Harvest House), participated in public violence which broke out on August 1.
They are accused of joining several other civilians who protested against the management of the harmonised elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Vhitorini granted the opposition activists bail after their lawyers Gift Mtisi, Kossam Ncube, Lizwe Jamela and Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and James Makiyi of Makiyi and Partners Legal Practitioners, successfully sought their clients’ freedom.
The lawyers argued that accused were not involved in the commission of the offence as alleged by the State.
Vhitorini admonished the prosecuting division for bringing a “disjointed case” to court and ruled that they (prosecutors) had failed to raise a logical argument to convince the court that the 27 committed the alleged crime and as such must be denied bail.
Vhitorini ruled that the grounds for arrest were baseless before the court, adding that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) used the search warrant to access Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House, where the arrests were made.
Deadly violence broke out in the streets of Harare and since then, the military, working in cahoots with the police, have launched a crackdown on opposition leaders and activists.
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African News Agency (ANA)