THREE MDC Alliance activists, who are being charged with publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the State and of defeating course of justice for allegedly making false claims of abduction and torture, appeared in court yesterday.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Harare West legislator Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova appeared before magistrate Bianca Makwande who postponed bail ruling to Monday.
The trio, represented by Jeremiah Bhamu from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, complained over the manner in which they were arrested, claiming it was dehumanising.
They said the officers who arrested them sexually and physically harassed them.
Bhamu said Marova had difficulties in walking and riot police officers were forcefully pushing her to walk, resulting in her limping on the concrete steps.
He said several police officers from the Law and Order Section and riot descended on their premises, invading their property without authority where the trio were seeking advice on surrendering their passports to the Clerk of Court.
However, the State, represented by Charles Muchemwa, promised to investigate their complaints, saying they will bring a detailed report to the court on their next remand date.
Muchemwa said the State was opposing bail, saying the trio were flight risk since the borders were porous. He said the charges they were facing were serious in that the whole world issued statements regarding their fake abduction claim.
He said if the accused were granted bail, their life would be endangered from the public who were angry because of their fake abduction claims.
It is the State’s case that the trio on May 13, 2020, faked their abduction after staging a demonstration in Warren Park suburb in Harare.
The State alleged that on the same day, the three advised their lawyers and family members through telephone calls, text and WhatsApp messages that they had been arrested by the police at Showground roadblock and that they were at Harare Central Police Station.
Upon receiving the communication from the trio, their lawyer, Jeremiah Bhamu reported at CID Law and Order Harare.
Bhamu purportedly communicated with Chief Inspector Chibaya telling him that the three had been arrested.
Checks were allegedly made by the police and it was established that the accused had not been arrested. Following this, the alleged fake abduction was widely reported on social media and local newspapers, the police said.
It was reported that the three had been arrested for participating in a demonstration. According to the State, on May 15, this year at around 1pm, Bhamu called the police informing them that the three were at Muchapondwa Business Centre in Bindura before they went to collect them in company of the police.
The three were taken to Parktown Hospital for medical examination since they alleged that they had been tortured.
On May 19, Marova was interviewed and her statement alleging that she had been abducted was recorded. Her co-accused was interviewed on May 25 and they made the same complaints, but the State said they were lying.
Investigations by the police established that the three were never abducted, but faked the kidnapping in that, during the time of the alleged kidnapping, the accused persons visited Belgravia Shopping Central in Harare at around 1654hours.
The State alleges that the accused were seen by members of the public who will testify that, at Belgravia Shopping Centre in a silver Mercedes Benz, registration number AFE9222 which was being driven by Mamombe, contrary to their claim that they were at an unknown place under unlawful detention.
Prosecutors allege that the three were captured on CCTV and the videos will be produced as exhibits. The State said the trio damaged the reputation of the country.