MBARE Magistrate Stanford Mambanje on Friday 12 May 2017 set free two pro-democracy campaigners Pride Mukono and Makomborero Haruzivishe after removing them from remand following their arrest and detention last year for allegedly protesting against the persecution of fellow human rights activists.
Mukono, Haruzivishe and Mehluli Dube were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on 29 August 2016 and charged with incitement to commit public violence as defined in Section 187 as read together with Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23). Prosecutors accused the trio of staging a demonstration outside Harare Magistrates Court protesting against the arrest and detention of other human rights activists for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest to demand implementation of electoral reforms.
Mukono, Haruzivishe and Dube, who were represented by Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were also accused of distributing some placards to people who were gathered at Harare
Magistrates Court with a potential view to inciting public violence by causing a revolt against ZRP officers who were camped outside the court building.
In removing Mukono and Haruzivishe from remand, Magistrate Mambanje ruled that the State had to exhaust its search for Dube, who has been consecutively in default of court attendances, before prosecutors can contemplate proceeding with the matter to finality.
Magistrate Mambanje said it would create logistical nightmares to continue with the matter with only two accused persons available to stand trial.
Earlier on, on Thursday 11 May 2017, Harare Magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta also set freed two pro-democracy campaigners namely Promise Mkwananzi and Kudakwashe Manjonjo, who had been on trial following their arrest
on Monday 28 November 2016 in Harare by ZRP officers for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) or alternatively criminal nuisance as defined in Section 46 as read with
Section 2 (f) to the Third Schedule of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23).
Mkwananzi and Manjonjo, who were represented by Webster Jiti and Obey Shava of ZLHR, whom prosecutors labelled as members of #Tajamuka pressure group were arrested on Monday 28 November 2016 after they
allegedly took turns to address about people in central Harare and inciting them to shun the introduction of bond notes by the government and corruption committed by senior government officials.
But Magistrate Sabarauta on Thursday 11 May 2017 set free Mkwananzi and Manjonjo after discharging them at the close of the State case.
Magistrate Sabaruta ruled that the State failed to prove its case being any reasonable doubt during the trial of the duo and the two State witnesses which prosecutors called to testify never witnessed the alleged offence being committed by the pro-democracy campaigners.
Meanwhile, Harare Magistrate Eric Kadye on Friday 12 May 2017 also set free two Harare residents namely Hickman Chinhoro and Leeroy Marimo, who were arrested in October 2016 and charged with assault as defined in Section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23).
Prosecutors claimed that Chinhoro and Marimo, who were represented Halimani of ZLHR assaulted one Clifford Mutsago on 15 October 2016 at Marwede Snake Park just outside Harare intending to cause bodily harm or realising that there was a real risk or possibility that bodily harm might result.
But Magistrate Kadye on Friday 12 May 2017 discharged Chinhoro and Marimo at the close of the State case after ruling that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the evidence of the State witnesses who testified during the trial of the two Harare residents.
Magistrate Kadye said no reasonable court acting properly would convict Chinhoro and Marimo on the basis of evidence adduced in court.