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High Court frees media monitors

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Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi on Friday ordered the release of the three Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) advocacy officers from prison after he dismissed an appeal by the Attorney-General’s Office against their granting of bail.

The three, Fadzai December, Molly Chimhanda and Gilbert Mabusa were arrested two weeks ago in Gwanda where they were summoned to help the police with investigations in a case in which they were accused of distributing subversive material against President Robert Mugabe.

They were detained and spent two nights in police cells before being brought to court.

The trio was granted $50 bail each by Gwanda magistrate Douglas Zvenyika on December 9.
But their freedom was shortlived after the State represented by Gwanda area public prosecutor Blessing Gundani invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence, setting aside the bail, leaving the trio to endure another week in remand prison.

Section 121 suspends bail for a period of seven working days, the period during which the State should appeal to the High Court against the granting of bail.

Timothy Makoni from the Attorney-Generals’ Office filed the appeal which was dismissed by Mathonsi.

The three MMPZ officers have not been asked to plead to the charges and were on Friday remanded out of custody to January 15.

December, Chimhanda and Mabusa were arrested for allegedly distributing material denigrating President Mugabe at a workshop held in Gwanda two weeks earlier.

Charges against them are that on November 24, they held an unsanctioned meeting at Gwanda where they allegedly distributed a DVD with subversive material likely cause public disorder.

Kossam Ncube, Lison Ncube and Rose Hanzi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights represent the trio.

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