MDC Alliance provincial youth chairman for Mashonaland Central, Tonderai Samhu, and four accomplices were on Monday slapped with a six-year jail term each by a Bindura magistrate for barricading roads and burning tyres in Mvurwi during last month’s protests, which were triggered by fuel price hikes.
By Simbarashe Sithole/Kenneth Nyangani
Samhu (34), together with Wonder Zuze (35), Beverly Mureya (41), Patris Dandajena (34) and Elisha Benjamin (50), had two years of their sentence suspended by magistrate Vongai Guwuriro.
The five were part of the 12 Mvurwi protesters who were arrested last month, while seven others were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Prosecutor Clement Kuwanda told the court that on January 14, the five mobilised people to gather at Mvurwi Community Hall the following day in protest against the fuel price hikes.
On January 15, the convicts met at Stardic service station in Mvurwi, where they broke into song, beating drums and dancing.
They drew the attention of other Mvurwi residents, who joined in.
The group of about 150 people marched towards Rwizi service station and later to the Mvurwi- Guruve Road, where they blocked the road with stones and worn-out tyres.
Kuwanda said they blocked the intersection of Dawson Road and Birmingham Avenue using the wreckage of a Mercedes-Benz.
They also blocked Harare-Mvurwi and Mvurwi-Mutorashanga highways using council refuse bins, drainage pipes, electricity poles, stones and logs.
They also burnt tyres in the middle of the road, obstructing the free movement of people and threatened to torch vehicles passing by.
Meanwhile, another Mutare protester was yesterday slapped with a three-year jail sentence for barricading roads and burning tyres during the three-day Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions-organised stayaway.
Liberty Sithole (30) appeared before provincial magistrate Sekai Chiundura who, however, suspended one year for five years on condition of good behaviour.
It is the State case that on January 15, Joseph Mushati saw smoke in the air near Islamic Church in Dangamvura and went to investigate.
Mushati reportedly saw the convict in the company of others, who are still at large, burning tyres and barricading roads with stones at Boka turn-off, thereby blocking the free flow of traffic.
The informant continued to follow the convict, who continued to barricade roads, before reporting him to police.