EIGHT Kwekwe residents have been acquitted on charges of public violence following their arrest in July during a demonstration against the countless roadblocks and high levels of police corruption in the Midlands town.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Commuter omnibus operators took to the streets last month protesting against the rising number of roadblocks in the Midlands town, resulting in the arrest of several touts.
Four of the touts were freed last month, while the remaining eight were out of custody on bail and appeared in court on Wednesday.
They were charged with public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and participating in an unlawful gathering as defined in section 37 of the same Act.
Kwekwe magistrate, Livard Phelimon on Wednesday acquitted the eight, who stood trial on charges of public violence.
The eight were represented by Clifford Chinamatira of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
The ZLHR said Phelimon freed the eight saying the State’s evidence was not reliable.
“Magistrate Phelimon this week set free the Kwekwe residents after ruling that the evidence presented in court during trial was not reliable, as it all came from some ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) members when it was common cause that the Kwekwe residents were arrested in connection with a demonstration against alleged corruption allegedly committed by law enforcements agents.
“In addition, magistrate Phelimon ruled that the State failed to adduce evidence from an independent and impartial source,” ZLHR said in an alert.
Motorists, ordinary Zimbabweans, opposition parties, tourists and the Tourism ministry have voiced their concern at the high number of roadblocks.
Traffic police also face allegations of demanding bribes to allow passage.
The Zimbabwe Council of Tourism has blamed the high number of roadblocks for scaring away tourists and affecting the ease of doing business.
President Robert Mugabe last week also slammed corruption among traffic police officers.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has in the past defended the roadblocks, saying people who criticised high police presence on national roads had sinister motives and evil intentions.