Joana Mamombe continues to languish in prison after court turns down bail request

Joana Mamombe

Bail will not be granted to MDC-Alliance members Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri over their latest charges, the High Court has ruled.

The two are remanded in custody on charges of breaching the recent level four national lockdown after convening a public gathering at the Harare Magistrates Court, while on bail coupled with stringent conditions for similar charges, including convening a public gathering.

The magistrate declined their original application for bail on the latest charges on the grounds that the new charge arose out of their activities while they were on bail.

So they appealed to the High Court against that bail ruling.

In dismissing the appeal for bail, Justice Tawanda Chitapi yesterday said it was apparent that even tough bail conditions would not curtail the likelihood of the two engaging in unlawful conduct.

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Although the court, after considering all the papers in the case, agreed that the magistrate committed misdirections which entitle the appeal judge to interfere with the magistrate’s decision, Justice Chitapi found compelling reasons to have the two remain in custody pending trial.

“I come to the same conclusion as the magistrate that there are compelling reasons to deny the appellant bail,” he said.

“Accordingly, my order is that the appeal by both appellants be and it is hereby dismissed.”

On Mamombe, the court found that she was a legislator and law giver who in that capacity should appreciate the fact that an existing law should be obeyed.

“Whilst I cannot say that she is guilty of the offences on which she is on remand because of the presumption of innocence, it remains a fact that she has not stopped to engage in other activities deemed as grounding a criminal offence,” said Justice Chitapi.

Turning to Chimbiri, the court said though she was not a legislator, she was a co-accused of Mamombe.

“She is, like any citizen, deemed to know the law and that the law must be obeyed,” the judge said, finding that the history of the two brought under spotlight the objectives and functions of the bail system and the criminal justice system.

Justice Chitapi said the bail system must be seen to be effective, adding that the system is undermined and loses significance if the same person who has been granted bail in one matter, continues coming to court and applying for bail on subsequently committed matters.

The judge was not convinced that it was in the interests of justice to grant the two bail.

Justice Chitapi also criticised the defence lawyers, Mr Alec Muchadehama and Mr Jeremiah Bamu, for showing an attitude of defiance after the defence team failed to give the court an assurance that despite their placement on remand, they would refrain from engaging in similar conduct again.