MDC 7 granted bail

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) chairperson Thabitha Khumalo, Senator Helen Zivira and five other party members who were arrested in Bulawayo on Saturday have been granted $200 bail each.

The seven are facing a charge of publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.

Khumalo, Zivira, Luba Masotsha, Elliot Mujeri, Tinashe Matimbura, Meliqiniso Sithole and Shelton Tembo all pleaded not guilty to the offense.

Bulawayo provincial magistrate Tinashe Tashaya remanded the seven to September 3.

Magistrate Tashaya said bail is a constitutional right which can only be denied when there is compelling evidence against the accused person.

Legal representative Godfrey Nyoni from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the MDC officials were treated in an unjust manner.

He said they were detained for more than six hours without being charged, a violation of their constitutional right that a person must be informed of their charge at the time of arrest

“A husband to one of the accused persons went to bring the accused food but was denied entry. That on its own is a violation of their right to food,” said Nyoni.

Nyoni argued the State did not do justice in looking into the matter and had just rushed into arraigning the accused persons.

He said Matimbura had asked for a lift, Mujeri had been hired as a driver and Masotsha had an issue to discuss with Khumalo pertaining to a report he had made at Southampton police.

Nyoni said allegations by the State were unfounded as the party had emphasised that the demonstrations were meant to be peaceful.

“The accused persons only communicated issues that affect the nationals of Zimbabwe and furthermore they emphasised more than three times that the demonstration was supposed to be peaceful,” he said.

Investigating Officer Roy Mushayi alleged the accused persons had already incited violence to the public as some members of Tshabalala, Nkulumane had barricaded roads this morning in response to their call.

He said if granted bail, accused persons would repeat a similar offense of misinforming people and would likely interfere with state witnesses.

“Your Worship such a matter to say such things against the government is a serious offense. If this court grants bail it would trivialise the offense,” said Mushayi.

State representative Leonard Chile told the court the accused persons were on August 17 using a grey Ford ranger whilst acting in common purpose went around Tshabalala and Nkulumane distributing fliers titled Free Zimbabwe campaign.

He said the flier which was addressed to all Zimbabweans, asserted that 2018 harmonised elections were stolen whilst they knew that such information was false.

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