FOUR Bulawayo Agenda (BA) officials pleaded not guilty on Wednesday 30 July 2014 to charges of contravening some provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) when their trial commenced in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The four BA officials namely Mmeli Dube, Butholezwe Kgosi Nyathi, Nthombiyezansi Mabunda Tozana and Thulani Moyo endured two nights in police custody in Victoria Falls, Matabeleland North province after they were arrested on Saturday 28 June 2014 and charged with contravening section 25 (1) (b) of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for allegedly failing to notify the regulatory authority of a public meeting held in the resort town.
Dube, the Research, Information and Advocacy Officer, Nyathi, the Senior Programmes Officer, Tozana, the Community Organiser and Moyo are out of custody on bail.
Magistrate Sheron Rosimani, who presided over the trial, postponed the matter to Thursday 21 August 2014 pending the filing of an application for discharge at the close of the State case by the BA lawyer Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
Jamela gave notice of his intention to file an application for discharge at the close of the State case after noting that there was no prima facie case established by the State which was represented by Takunda Ndovori of the National Prosecuting Authority who led evidence from four witnesses.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Tinashe Ndokera on Wednesday 30 July 2014 freed three Masvingo residents who were arrested on Monday 28 July 2014 and accused of causing malicious damage to property as defined in Section 140 (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The three residents namely Tamutswa Chikonyora, Solomon Kuvheyi and Patrick Mutema were accused of going to the Masvingo City Council (MCC) Chief Administrator’s office asking for the whereabouts of Masvingo Mayor Hubert Fidze. The State further accused the three residents of throwing stones which reportedly damaged two window panes at the MCC offices.
The property was allegedly damaged after some incensed residents demonstrated against the reckless execution of duty by MCC officials which resulted in the death of a one-year old baby who was run over by an MCC truck which was chasing after vendors.
Kuvheyi and Mutema were released on Wednesday 30 July 2014 after spending two nights in police cells because there was no evidence linking them to the offence while Chikonyora, who was represented by Collin Maboke of Ruvengo Maboke and Company Legal Practitioners and a member of ZLHR appeared at Masvingo Magistrates Court on the same day.
Maboke challenged the placement of Chikonyora on remand after arguing that there was no evidence linking him to the offence.
This prompted Magistrate Ndokera to rule against placing Chikonyora on remand leading to his release and the State was ordered to proceed by issuing summons if it intends to pursue the matter.
Magistrate Ndokera also ordered the State to carry out investigations into complaints tabled by Maboke to the effect that Chikonyora was assaulted by some police officers while in custody as proven by his blood-stained shirt which he was putting on when he was brought to court.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights