Chingwizi Villagers Bid For Freedom

CHIREDZI, August 7, 2014 – The 29 Chingwizi villagers who were

arrested last weekend and charged with public violence have

intensified their freedom bid after their lawyers on Thursday filed an

application for bail.

In their bid to liberate the villagers, the lawyers had on Tuesday

first challenged the lawfulness of their arrest and their subsequent

detention arguing that several of their constitutional rights were

violated during the dragnet capture conducted by the police on Sunday

and Monday.

On Wednesday, the lawyers filed an application challenging the

placement of their clients on remand on the basis that there was no

reasonable suspicion that they had committed an offence and that the

State had failed to indicate what each and everyone of the 29

villagers did so as to link them to the commission of the offence.

However, Chiredzi Magistrate Tayegwa Chibanda on Wednesday and

Thursday dismissed the two applications leaving the lawyers to file

the bail application.

In their bail application, the lawyers Blessing Nyamaropa, Phillip

Shumba, Collin Maboke and Martin Mureri charged that the State had

failed to submit compelling reasons to justify the continued detention

of the 29 villagers who include an 84 year-old man, two teenagers and

a toddler.

The lawyers also proposed that the State, which opposed bail on the

basis that the 29 villagers could abscond as they were not permanent

residents of Chingwizi but just being kept in a transit camp could

have its fears allayed by the imposition of stringent bail conditions

such as reporting to the police once every week, paying a $20 deposit

and not interfere with State witnesses.

Magistrate Chibanda then reserved his ruling on the bail application

to Friday 08 August 2014.

Meanwhile, some of the detained Chingwizi villagers’ health is at risk

after going for almost one week without accessing their

anti-retroviral drugs after they were arrested by the police.

During the bail application, the lawyers raised concern that one of

the detainees Collin Tandare, who is a single parent had left her two

children including one under the age of two years unattended and who

were reportedly missing.

The State also attempted to justify the incarceration of 84 year-old

Kandros Purazeni, who is a village head and Ellen Muteiwa, who is

detained with her baby aged one-year eight months including some

villagers who could not be linked to the alleged public violence as

they were of poor health and living in their tents or were out of

Chingwizi transit camp when the alleged offence was committed.