BY CHARLES LAITON
FIVE of the seven local human rights activists nabbed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport last month on allegations of attending a subversion workshop in Maldives as part of a plot to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, were yesterday released on $1 000 bail each following their appeal at the High Court.
These are George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Nyasha Mpahlo and Farirayi Gumbonzvanda.
In granting them bail, High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi ordered them to surrender their passports, continue residing at their given addresses and to report every day at their nearest police stations.
Their two co-accused, Sithabile Dewa and Beauty Rita Nyampinga, who are facing similar charges, are set to appear at the same court on Monday for bail ruling.
Justice Chitapi said the State had failed to prove that the alleged workshop attended by the accused incited them to embark on acts of subversion.
“The programme of the workshop was produced by the applicants, who wanted to prove that the workshop had nothing to do with subversion, but the State then pounced on the programme and tried to make it its own case,” the judge ruled.
Justice Chitapi said although he agreed with the State that the allegations should be viewed in serious light, it was, therefore, important for the court to balance the interests of the
State and those of the arrested individuals.
“This court will take judicial notice of issues of violence which has rocked the country recently, but the State failed to link the applicants with the previous disturbances … It is clear that the State arrested to investigate since prosecutor Clemence Chimbari submitted that the seized cellphones of the applicants and laptops were currently being checked for any subversive information at Potraz [Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe],” he said.
The judge also said the suspects told the court through their lawyers that their arrest and detention was unlawful and was done in violation of their constitutional rights to
“They said they were not informed of their charges upon arrest. This was not contested by the State,” he said.