A lawyer is among the eight citizens in Chiredzi who were denied bail for allegedly disobeying police instructions to disperse from Tshovani Stadium, the venue for a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rally that was banned by authorities.
According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, ZLHR, the nine were arrested last week on July 5, 2023, and charged with contravening provisions of the ‘repressive’ Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA), which is being abused to ban opposition political parties’ pre-election campaign activities.
“Prosecutors alleged that the eight Chiredzi residents refused to comply with an order in which they were told to disperse from Tshovani Stadium after law enforcement agents prohibited CCC from holding a campaign rally which had been scheduled for Wednesday, 5 July 2023,” said ZLHR in a statement.
The eight are the lawyer, Farai Chauke (42) of Chauke and Associates Legal Practitioners while the residents consist of Mollen Shonhai (27), Gladmore Gungubu (18), Kudzai Madyira (27), Charles Mungate (50), Lloyd Mushari (26), Agrippa Dhambureni (29) and Simon Hlomani (56).
ZLHR said police officers threw teargas canisters at some CCC party supporters, who were reportedly gathered outside the stadium.
“Chauke, Shonhai, Gungubu, Madyira, Mungate, Mushari, Dhambureni and Hlomani were charged with failure to comply with conditions under which a meeting is authorised as defined in Section 8 (ii) of MOPA Act,” said the human rights organisation.
“Prosecutors claimed that Chauke, Shonhai, Gungubu, Madyira, Mungate, Mushari, Dhambureni and Hlomani, who were represented by Ross Chavi of ZLHR started singing some political songs and threw stones towards ZRP officers after being told to disperse.”
The eight appeared before Chiredzi Magistrate Vimbai Mutukwa last week Friday on July 7, 2023 and denied them bail, ruling that Zimbabwe was now in pre-election season and that there would be a propensity among them to commit similar offences.
Magistrate Mutukwa then remanded Chauke, Shonhai, Gungubu, Madyira, Mungate, Mushari, Dhambureni and Hlomani to 14 July, where their trial is scheduled to commence.
Meanwhile, the Law Society of Zimbabwe has sharply condemned the barbaric attack on human rights lawyers, citing the case of Obey Shava, who was beaten last week in Harare by unknown assailants.
According to the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Shava’s attack is similar to what happened to Kudzai Kadzere, who was also beaten by police a few months ago while providing legal services to his clients and added the cyberbullying of Fadzai Traquino on social media by a frustrated litigant.
According to the organisation, “the increase in attacks and use of violence against legal practitioners and these acts directly undermines the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe.”