THE 19 suspected MDC-T activists who were arrested in Hatcliffe suburb over allegations of impersonating public officials were yesterday denied bail after the court ruled they would interfere with police investigations.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON
Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei ruled that the activists would compromise investigations if granted an opportunity to be tried out of custody. He remanded them to May 18.
A Harare lawyer, Denford Halimani, who was representing all the accused persons, criticised the police for arresting his clients arguing they were patriotic Zimbabweans encouraging other citizens to register as voters.
“It is amazing for people to be charged for encouraging others to register as voters. Is it not being patriotic if one invites others to register as voters? The State has created fictitious outstanding accused persons in a bid to oppose bail for my clients,” Halimani said.
The activists were charged with violating Section 179 (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which
criminalises impersonating public officials.
The State alleges that between April 18 and 25, the accused persons, who are not employees of any government department, descended on Hatcliffe purporting to be conducting a voter registration and verification exercise.
It is further alleged they were wearing golf T-shirts inscribed “Ministry of Home Affairs” and caps with a government logo and had copies of the voters’ roll.
Prosecutor Gift Zumbika opposed bail on the basis that there were outstanding accused persons who had disappeared with other voter registration rolls, an assertion challenged by Halimani.
The lawyer accused the police of being malicious in opposing bail arguing the offence which they were charged for was not serious and attracted the option of a fine if one was convicted.
“This is not an offence for which they are likely to be incarcerated and they will not be tempted to run away. For such petty offences the court would be persuaded to consider an option of a fine and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months for which community service would be considered,” Halimani said.