THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have condemned the vetoing of the $300 bail granted to MDC–T activists by Harare provincial magistrate Douglas Vakayi Chikwekwe after they were arrested for allegedly endangering free movement of persons or traffic last week.
Although Chikwekwe had adjudged Keith Charumbira, Stanley Manyenga, Bridget Nyandoro, Linnete Chibinya, Stewarty Gwebe, Danmore Tshuma and Ronia Bunjira to be good candidates for bail, prosecutor Barbra Ndoro invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Evidence and Procedure Act (CPEA) to suspend the bail order.
“ZLHR condemns the spiteful and groundless actions of the State in vetoing a bail order granted in favour of an opposition legislator and six party activists,” said the human rights lawyers in a statement.
The lawyers said it was malicious for the State to continue to “unnecessarily infringe upon the fundamental right to liberty of accused persons” by bringing up Section 121.
“This is despite the fact that the constitutionality of Section 121 of the CPEA is being challenged in numerous cases which are yet to be heard by the Constitutional Court,” reads the statement in part.
Ndoro claimed that the MDC-T activists, who were remanded in custody to September 2, threw stones at police officers without being provoked during a demonstration staged on August 18 by MDC-T youths demanding that President Robert Mugabe fulfilled his pre-election pledge of creating two million jobs.
“This draconian piece of legislation is frequently abused to the prejudice of suspects as prosecutors are clearly usurping the powers of the judiciary who in this case had safeguarded the fundamental right to liberty of the accused persons,” said ZLHR executive director Irene Petras.
In another matter, the lawyers rapped police officers who were overzealous in effecting arrests after a Victoria Falls magistrate Sheron Rosimani recently freed four Bulawayo Agenda officials who were on trial for contravening the Public Order and Security Act.
Mmeli Dube, Butholezwe Kgosi Nyathi, Nthombiyezansi Mabunda Tozana and Thulani Moyo had been on trial since last month after they were arrested on charges of failing to notify the regulatory authority of a public meeting. Rosimani ruled on August 21 that the State had failed to establish a prima facie case against the four human rights defenders.