104 Epworth, Mabvuku protesters including school children in court

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One hundred and four people from Epworth and Mabvuku in Harare linked to Monday’s public violence against police roadblocks appeared in court yesterday and were remanded in custody to today for bail hearing.

The court heard that among the group were four schoolchildren.

The magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe ordered four of the protesters, who were mauled by police dogs, to be medically examined and treated.

He refused to place Thomas Gada on remand after establishing that he was not among the group and the police, Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services did not know where he was.

“Gada was arrested on July 4, and a record has been opened in his absence.

“State, police and ZPCS cannot account for him,” ruled Mr Chikwekwe.

“Forty-eight hours has elapsed after his arrest and anyone detaining him should release him immediately.”

The lawyer Mr Jeremiah Bhamu, representing 51 men from Epworth, challenged placement of the accused on remand saying they were over detained.

“The accused were arrested at 9am on Monday, and were brought to court around 9:30am, after the stipulated 48 hours,” he said.

The investigating officer Joyce Murawa told the court that she did not check her time, but left Harare Central Police Station around 8:45am with the accused.

In his ruling, Mr Chikwekwe said the Clerk of Court said he opened the record at around 8:40am on the presumption that the accused were there.

“It is not mandatory for the Clerk of Court to check if each of the accused is there. Therefore, the accused were brought to court in time,” ruled Mr Chikwekwe.

Mr Bhamu proceeded to lodge his complaints against the police.

He said; “The accused were denied access to food on the day of their arrest. There is no explanation from the police why the school children were detained.

“Even if detention was the last option, they should have been kept away from other accused.

“The other accused were fed to the police dogs. Those fortunate to be taken to hospital were only bandaged and one of them cannot stand up or walk. Injuries are grave and require further and better medication.”

Mr Bhamu added that the conditions in which the accused were detained were inhuman and degrading.

“They were not treated for rabies and some of them have alibis, which were not investigated,” he said.

“We apply for them to be released unconditionally or on reasonable conditions.”

Mr Chikwekwe deferred the matter to today for bail application and ordered the injured to be examined and treated.

Shaun Bako and 50 others from Ruwa are facing public violence, and allegedly destroyed property worth $500 000.

The prosecutor Mr Oscar Madhume alleged that on July 4, the police received a tip off that protesters from the Greater Harare Association for Commuter Omnibus were demonstrating in Ruwa.

Police proceeded to the scene and saw the accused ferrying huge boulders using three vehicles.

They were allegedly barricading Mutare Highway using huge stones and carrying placards written: “Usapinde mukombi kusvikira mapurisa abva muroad”; and, “Hatineti kusvikira President abva.”

The police identified the accused who were stoning motorists, stopping commuter omnibus and disembarking passengers.

The mob allegedly stoned the police and damaged their vehicle.

The accused were later rounded up and arrested.

It is alleged that Tichaona Chikonya and 53 others from Epworth barricaded Chiremba Road at Chans shops.

They also attacked the police and damaged property worth $1 000.

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