MASVINGO – Godfrey Kurauone, an MDC Alliance councillor from Masvingo who was held without bail for 42 days has been acquitted on a charge of obstructing the free movement of traffic and participating in an illegal demonstration.
Kurauone’s arrest and denial of bail by both the Magistrate’s Court and the High Court sparked an international outcry, including demands for his release by the former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Masvingo magistrate Patience Madondo said prosecutors had failed to prove their case and acquitted Kurauone.
Kurauone went to the Law and Order Section at Masvingo Police Station with his lawyer on July 31 as part of bail reporting conditions on an earlier case in which he is accused of undermining the authority of the president.
He was arrested and accused of taking part in an illegal demonstration in Mashaba, about 20km away. Prosecutors said he was part of a group of protesters that blocked roads with stones and boulders.
He insisted that he was never in Mashaba on the day, and a doctor who examined him on July 24 and after his arrest on July 31 said he was medically not fit to have been involved in such a physically exerting activity.
“I would be surprised and would not agree that my patient blocked 500 meters of road using stones. I would put some question marks because he was complaining of abdominal pains and I don’t think that he was in a position to carry out that task,” said Dr Calvin Maimba.
Madondo said evidence by two State witnesses was inconsistent, with one of them failing to assert categorically the colour of the jacket that he claimed he had seen Kurauone wearing at the alleged crime scene.
The magistrate said the police investigation was also incompetent because investigators neglected to check at Kurauone’s house in Masvingo the moment they supposedly saw him in Mashaba to help dispel any possibility of mistaken identity.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere welcomed Kurauone’s acquittal.
“He should never have been arrested or denied bail in the first place,” Mahere said.-zimlive