Violence yesterday marked the beginning of the High Court trial of 29 MDC-T activists accused of murdering a police officer in May last year.
While High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu was hearing the matter inside the High Court, a year after the activists were arrested, riot police were having running battles with over 200 MDC-T youths protesting against the continued detentions outside the court.
Police had to use teargas to disperse the originally peaceful demonstrators who could not go without a fight.
One of the policemen had to scurry for cover in the High Court as the MDC-T activists bayed for his blood.
By 1600 hours, the police could still be seen milling outside the High Court monitoring the situation as MDC-T supporters trooped out of the court where they had gone to follow the trial.
“Over 100 youths were demonstrating and throwing flyers outside the High Court when police threw teargas at them and beating them to disperse.
“The youths took revenge at one policeman, assaulted him before running away,” said one High Court worker who refused to be named.
According to a flyer, the youths demanded an end to police brutality, which they said was compromising the justice delivery system.
They also demanded the immediate release of Solomon Madzore, the MDC-T youth leader who is among the 29 accused. Police confirmed one officer was injured but said they were still investigating the matter and no arrests had been made.
But in a statement last night, MDC-T said its acting youth Chairperson Costa Machingauta was arrested in the melee and is detained at Harare Central Police Station.
“We are disturbed that we still have some people who have no respect for the rule of law.
“Let anyone who wants to cause mayhem in the city know that we will not tolerate that,” Harare police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau said.
Edmore Nyazamba, the State prosecutor, said the 29 activists were being charged with murdering a Glen View police officer, Petros Mutedza, or alternatively, public violence as defined in section 47 and 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Nyazamba said the youths were moving around in Glen View in party T-shirts on the day they allegedly killed the police officer and injured several others with stones, bricks, sticks and empty bottles.
The activists pleaded not guilty to the charges. They said the State was wasting resources and time pursuing a political agenda.
A high-powered defence bench comprising Beatrice Mtetwa, Alec Muchadehama, Gift Mtisi, Charles Kwaramba, Jeremiah Bhamu and Selby Hwacha said the activists were victims of political profiling targeting
Kwaramba said police kept records of the MDC-T activists in the area and used the profiling to arrest them.
He said police refused to investigate traceable evidence because they were merely targeting those that belonged to MDC-T.
Most of those arrested hold party positions at district, provincial and national levels and others who are known and active members of the party, according to
The activists allege they had been tortured while in police remand cells with one claiming to have sustained a broken arm while the other claimed to have lost two teeth to the police who wanted them to admit killing Mutedza.
Kwaramba said the State was failing to do a proper investigation due to its “over-dedication” to pinning the murder on the MDC-T youths while relying on Zanu PF youths for information.
The trial continues today with the defence lawyers expected to seek bail for the activists. Twenty witnesses, 15 of them police officers, are expected to testify in the matter.