A mother of five, Linda Masarira, who was once described by police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Charity Charamba, as a hooligan soon after she was arrested on July 6th with several other people during nationwide public protests, has been in remand prison for almost a month.
Masarira is facing charges of engaging in violent protests organized by Pastor Evan Mawarire of #thisflag and Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign. Her children are now living from hand to mouth.
Masarira’s friends in civic society have described her as a fearless warrior fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe. But the state sees her as an enemy as she is currently languishing at Chikurubi Remand Prison following what police said were illegal protests that hit the country early this month. She allegedly violated some sections of the dreaded Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).
Masarira, a widow and former employee of the National Railways of Zimbabwe, had no steady income when she was netted by the police for allegedly taking part in the national protests.
Her friend, Mandowa Manezhu, admits that very little resources have been coming to help Masarira’s children in Mutare, Manicaland province.
Manezhu told Studio 7 that while Linda is a known protester, who has been arrested several times in pro-democracy peaceful marches, she claims that on July 6th when she was stopped by the police, Masarira was going for a meeting in Harare’s central business district.
Manezhu said Masarira’s family is suffering without their only bread winner.
“The sad thing is that Linda has five kids with four of them going to school and the last born being only two years. But what is sad is that while we are looking for contributions to assist her family, not much is coming. They do not have food. During her incarceration it is her children that are suffering more”
Anna Kuudzadombo, who occupied Africa Unity Square during one of the protests, said Masarira has been unfairly treated by the state.
“I think Linda is suffering too much because it has been many days while she has been in prison. We wish her to come back so that we can continue with the struggle”
A local politician, Monalisa Sharara, believes Masarira is being allegedly ill-treated by the state to stop other women from engaging in peaceful protests.
Masarira is set to appear in court tomorrow at Mbare Magistrates Courts. Harare urged women and all pro-democracy activists to converge at the courts to give her moral support.
Last Friday, her lawyers applied for the case to be taken to the Constitutional Court after Masarira was denied bail when several other protesters were released after posting bail.
Authorities claimed they needed to confirm the existence of a warrant of arrest allegedly issued against her by the Mutare Magistrates Court over an undisclosed matter before making any other moves in her case.
Nasper Manyawu, who took part in the protests, vowed to continue fighting for the betterment of the future of Zimbabwe by taking government to task over issues that affect ordinary people.
Manyawu said Masarira’s arrest and the suffering of her family has made the protesters stronger.
In Tafara high density suburbs, Studio 7 caught up with Brian Kasunzuma, one of the Occupy Africa Unity Square occupants, waving a free Masarira placard.
Kasunzuma said there is no going back on the protests in which some Zimbabweans are demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe and the fulfillment of Zanu PF’s 2013 election promises to create millions of jobs.
Pamela Mawire, another activist who was incarcerated with Masarira, warned the government that arresting peaceful protesters will not resolve Zimbabwe’s social, economic and political crisis.
Mawire said it is the desire of every Zimbabwean to get the nation working again.
For Masarira life appears to be tough inside and outside remand prison as her family is now struggling to make ends meet.-VOA