by Nomalanga Moyo on March 5, 2013
By Nomalanga Moyo
5 March 2013
Fourteen MDC-T supporters arrested in Chegutu over the weekend appeared in court on Tuesday, charged with hindering a police officer from carrying out her duties.
The 14 were part of a group of 57 MDC-T activists who were on a bus travelling to Gweru for a constitution publicity campaign launch, addressed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday.
The activists are being held at Chegutu police cells after their application for bail pending trial was opposed by the state. The presiding magistrate reserved judgement until Thursday.
Their lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara, told SW Radio Africa that the 14 are being charged under Section 184 of the Criminal Law (Reform & Codification) Act. They are all denying the charges.
The 14 are Kennethy Nyanhindi (29), Friday Matawire (19), Chigwada Tatenda (22), Masenda Benson (22), Archieford Mutsagwa (29), Waison Chapfungamoyo (29), Tendai Katsariga (28), Terrence Perk (30), Nash Ngoroyemoto (25), Elisha Mandizvidza (34), Michael Gondo (31), Simba Murigwa (42), Rodwell Madziyire (age not given) and Trouble Hasha (40).
Police spokesperson Superintendent Paul Nyathi said the 14 were aboard a Munenzva bus which was stopped at a roadblock and found to be “travelling ahead of its scheduled time”, leading to the driver’s arrest.
The 14 then disembarked from the bus which had the 54 supporters on board and confronted one of the police officers, demanding the driver’s release.
“One of the accused persons snatched the police detail’s cellphone and went back into the bus,” Nyathi told the Herald on Sunday.
Nyathi said the phone was not recovered, and warned that the “full wrath of the law will be applied” to anyone who obstructed the police from performing their duties.
However, Bhatasara said: “The police are now claiming the MDC-T supporters took the road permit and the driver’s licence from the female officer.
“The mobile phone theft has been left out of the charge sheet. What seemed to have irked the police was that the activists were wearing their party’s regalia and singing.”
Responding to the latest arrests, the MDC-T said in a statement that the party was disturbed by this selective application of the law by the police.
The party said “the charges are not just flimsy but irreconcilable” as the mobile phone was not found despite the 14 having been under police custody all the time.
“Such flimsy excuses by the police to arrest our people smirks of double standards for a force that has dismally failed to fulfill its constitutional duties.”
The MDC-T also reminded the police of acts of violence perpetrated against its members by ZANU PF supporters, who are yet to be arrested.
It said: “In Mbare, the police were on Friday unable to arrest ZANU PF thugs who assaulted MDC members in custody, opting to let the thugs go and leave the attacked in custody.
“Lamped Matava had to be admitted in hospital while Frank Kanyenze remained in custody.
In Headlands, a 12-year-old disabled boy, Christpowers Maisiri, was on February 23rd killed in what is widely suspected to be an arson attack by ZANU PF supporters.
The police have since ruled out any foul play but the Maisiris have slammed the shoddy investigation carried out by the police into their son’s death. – See more here