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Court dismisses MDC Alliance activists' application

by Staff reporter
21 Oct 2021 at 06:18hrs | Views
HARARE regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere yesterday dismissed five MDC Alliance activists' application for exception to the charges where they allegedly staged an unsanctioned demonstration during lockdown in Warren Park sometime in May last year.

Mr Manwere dismissed the application saying the issues raised by Joana Mamombe, Stanely Manyenga, Cecilia Revai Chimbiri, Lovejoy Chitengu and Makomborero Haruzivishe in their application for exception to charges were triable issues.

The five are being charged with participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence and alternatively violating the Covid-19 national lockdown measures.

In their application for exception to the charges prepared by lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, the MDC-A members said the State's allegations does not reveal a criminal offence and that the facts show that no offence was committed.

Mr Muchadehama, in the application, also told the court that his clients never carried placards as the State alleges.

They claimed the police could have manufactured the placards to falsely implicate them in the matter saying the State cannot be the complainant in the case.

"Without the accused knowing where the placards came from or who was holding it they cannot properly defend themselves or plead to the charge.

"They are embarrassed and vexed by these charges," he said in the application.

Mr Manwere, in his ruling, said the issue of who was holding the placards was not the only thing to be looked into in this matter, as there are other issues that will be raised during trial.

The State led by Mr Tafara Chirambira opposed to the five activists' application saying:

"The complainant in the matter is the State This is because the effects of the revolt the accused persons were threatening to cause or incite was meant to be against the State and the democratically elected Government.

"Breach of public order was aimed at the State as it is the one constitutionally mandated to maintain order.

"One cannot understand how the accused persons attempt to separate the two.

"The accused persons have submitted through counsel that marching in a high density suburb holding placards of which one was inscribed ‘unlock before we revolt" was conditional and no reasonable person should conclude that the accused person's actions thereof could or may have caused a breach of the peace.

"The State submits that the actions of the accused as alleged threatened a revolt. In simple English revolt has been defined as taking violent action against an established Government or ruler or to rebel…

"So in casu, the accused persons grouped, marched along the streets of Warren Park holding placards wherein they threatened to take violent action against an established Government or ruler or to rebel.

"To incite is defined as to encourage or stir up (violent or unlawful behaviour)

"The question is, was their behaviour not meant to incite or threaten, did the behaviour not seek to cause a breach of the peace and or should they have not realised that the same could have occurred instigated by their behaviour.

"It is important to take the above in the context that this march is alleged to have been held during the day in a highly populated residential area where people were under a Covid-19 induced lockdown.

"It is also submitted that the actions were a deliberate and calculated attempt to rile the locals who like people around and the world over, the time was tense and full of anxiety due to the way Covid-19 was taking lives."

Source - The Herald