THE trial of five human rights activists arrested at the Harare Gardens late last October on allegations of insulting police officers, resumed yesterday at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, with the suspects denying the charge.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The five — Patson Dzamara, Linda Masarira, Makomborero Haruziviishe, Rangariraishe Mhende and Leverage Masvondo — face charges of disorderly conduct.
They told trial magistrate Gamuchirai Siwardi that police just stormed the park and arrested them as they awaited transport to take them to the funeral of a fellow activist’s son.
But, State witness Assistant Inspector Gift Chingwaru insisted that the activists were having a political meeting and wore T-shirts inscribed, “The end game”, and “The Zimbabwe we want”.
This was shot down by defence lawyer, Obey Shava, who asked if it was an offence to gather in the park or wear T-shirts carrying a similar message.
Chingwaru also claimed the suspects shouted at the police officers labelling them puppets.
The matter was remanded to January 23 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the trial of 22 anti-government protesters accused of burning two government vehicles during a demonstration against corruption in government institutions last year, resumed yesterday at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
The protesters, through their lawyers, Tonderai Bhatasara and Jeremiah Bhamu, denied the allegations and accused police of targeting them because of their known anti-government stance.
The activists are alleged to have burnt two trucks belonging to the police and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) during a violent protest that rocked Harare on August 24 last year.
One of the suspects, Promise Mkwananzi, in his defence, denied any links with the offence, saying he was attending a workshop outside the city’s central business district when the alleged arson took place.
Another suspect, Bruce Usvisvo, told the court that he was a vendor and was arrested as he walked out of a supermarket.
ZBC driver, Makesure Cheza told the court that he saw the protesters pelting his car with stones before setting it ablaze, but could not positively identify them.
Cheza said he only saw a man wearing a red shirt throwing burning cardboard boxes into the car and it then started burning.