HARARE – MDC Alliance election agents, vendors and ordinary people who are part of 27 civilians arraigned before the Harare Magistrates’ Court for public violence, yesterday refuted the allegations during bail hearing.
The 27 are currently in custody following violent clashes between the army and civilians on Wednesday which saw the army shoot and kill seven people.
Part of the group, who include former Zanu PF legislator Shadreck Mashayamombe and seven women, was arrested at MDC headquarters in Harare on August 2.
Others argued yesterday that they were arrested as they went about their business in various locations in the city on August 4 and 5.
According to defence lawyers, those arrested at Harvest House who included MDC Alliance election agents and members of staff argued that they were caught up in the melee as they went about their business.
Some argued they were going about their business when soldiers opened fire and they sought refuge at the MDC headquarters.
Through their defence counsels, they called on the State to provide compelling reasons why they should not be admitted to bail.
Many insisted they were all of fixed abode, had no previous convictions or pending cases and were ready to surrender their passports and abide to any bail conditions that may be set by the court.
One Michael Mheta, who claimed to be a vendor in Mbare said he was arrested on August 3 in Mbare after he made a police report on August 2 against some Zanu PF youths.
He insisted he never set his foot in the CBD the day violence occurred.
However, State prosecutor Michael Reza opposed bail arguing the accused were likely to interfere with witnesses and manipulate evidence or to abscond.
“These are people who knew the police was looking for them. Instead of surrendering themselves they went and sought refuge at Harvest House. Some were caught setting cars on fire and stoning the police officers. None of them surrendered themselves to the police.
“Even today there was communication on social media that people should not report for work. The police had to issue a statement advising otherwise.
“So we cannot say the situation is normal, it is not,” Reza said before alleging that “six innocent people died as result of the accused’s behaviour.”
“The State is saying these are people who have unfinished business outside. To them this is a minor disturbance and want to be outside so that they can finish their business,” he said.
“The community will be baffled if people who were arrested as a result of assistance from the members of the public are freed just like that. It’s a certainty they will disappear into the masses. Public confidence will be shaken,” he said.
Among the accused is Mashayamombe, 35, is jointly charged with Tapiwa Joni, 27, Ngonidzashe Makazhu, 28, Mheta, 31 and Simbarashe Mujeye, 37.
They had earlier appeared on a separate record before the records were married.
Mashayamombe and his colleagues are accused of acting in concert with 500 others and proceeding to Zanu PF headquarters along Fourth Street where they reportedly threw missiles, thereby destroying windows and 12 precast wall lights.
They are further accused of burning six cars and a Yutong bus.
The others who had appeared on a separate record are Judith Chacha, 28, Lilian Mahosi, 48, Anna Chezhira, 35, Angeline Mukoki, 38, Agatha Mubaiwa, 41, Chancellor Nyamande, 38, Livenice Kachana, 27, Mercy Mataramvura, 25, Munyaradzi Chibanda, 39, Samson Nerwande, 45, Raymond Machakaire, 23, Tapiwa Khamu, 37, Tendai Torerwa, 28, David Zvavamwe, 58, Christopher Nikisi, 50, Tonderai Chakona, 37 and Justin Mugashu, 47.
The allegations against them are that on August, 1, 2018 at 12:00hrs, they were part of a group of people that staged an illegal demonstration organised by the MDC Alliance against an alleged delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to announce the July 30 presidential results.
The court heard that the police had to call for reinforcements which reacted to the incident and dispersed the accused persons, who ran in different directions.
It is further alleged that the accused persons went to corner Rezende Street and Bank Street and pulled down a bill board with the portrait of president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and burnt it.
They then proceeded to KFC food outlet at corner Inez Terrace Street and Speke Avenue, Harare, where they stoned and damaged four large screen windows valued at $700, the court was told.
They reportedly went to Pizza Inn in the same area and stoned seven large screens worth $600.
According to court papers, they further went to Baker’s Inn along First Street, Harare where they stoned and damaged 10 large windows valued at $8 000.