Journalist, activists trial resumes

THE trial of freelance journalist Edgar Gweshe and civil society activists Donald Makuvaza and Charles Chidhakwa on charges of failing to comply with prison officers’ orders during a demonstration at Harare Remand Prison resumed yesterday with the accused testifying in their defence.

BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

The trial resumed after three of their fellow accused Nixon Nyikadzino, Mfundo Mlilo and Dirk Frey were acquitted at the close of the State case in September last year.

They are all denying the charges, arguing they were doing their business and were never given an order or warning before their arrest.
Gweshe in his defence said he was going about his business as a journalist covering the civil society activists’ solidarity visit to the prison where 15 vendors were detained.

The vendors had been arrested in the central business district during a clean-up operation.

Gweshe further told the court that after his arrest, prison officers confiscated his mobile phone, camera and flash stick.

Edgar Gweshe

He also alleged that the gadgets’ files were downloaded in his absence.

Gweshe admitted to taking pictures, but could not tell if the ones produced in court were from his camera.

Makuwaza had a near-similar version of events and said he was apprehended by an officer without warning while taking pictures of civil society activists outside the prison facilities.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Francesca Mukumbiri, the two denied that they harboured a motive to be arrested as activists.

Mukumbiri said they knew exactly where they were, but went ahead to take the pictures knowing it was illegal as a show of solidarity with their detained colleagues.

The trial will continue before magistrate Elijah Makomo next Wednesday with the third accused, Chidhakwa, testifying in his defence.

The trio is being represented by lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara.

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