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Ngarivhume denied bail

by Staff reporter
21 Aug 2020 at 19:34hrs | Views
A court on Friday denied bail for the third time to Jacob Ngarivhume, who called for anti-government protests last month, ruling he could be a danger to the public if released.

The Transform Zimbabwe leader has been in detention for a month after his arrest along with journalist Hopewell Chin'ono on charges of inciting violence, after he called for protests on July 31 against corruption and the government's mishandling of the economy.

Critics accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of persecuting its opponents amid the worst economic crisis in more than a decade, a charge the authorities deny.

Ngarivhume sought bail on changed circumstances, his lawyer Moses Nkomo arguing that July 31 passed off peacefully with no violence.

Magistrate Trynos Utahwashe said the fact that July 31 had come and gone without the violence the state had feared was "not sufficient to guarantee the safety of the public if the accused is granted bail".

Ngarivhume, the magistrate said. could not have ensured that demonstrators would maintain social distancing in line with Covid-19 regulations if the demonstrations were successful.

The magistrate also said the threat to public safety had gone beyond July 31, adding that Ngarivhume was now the leader of a "movement".

Ngarivhume, who arrived at court in leg irons and handcuffs, will return to court on September 4 for a routine appearance.

His lawyer Moses Nkomo said he was "stunned" by the court's decision but would appeal at the High Court next week.

"The court acknowledged that the 31st came and went without any incident, but then said what was proposed as a 31st July demonstration has become a movement, despite the fact that there was no evidence at all that was produced before the court," Nkomo said.

"The court further said that Ngarivhume was the founder of this 31st July movement. We were actually hearing that for the first time from the court. We're very disappointed with the outcome, but we're not in any way discouraged," Nkomo said.

Another magistrate is expected to rule on Chin'ono's third bail application on Monday.

Source - Reuters