Court gives ultimatum to State over prosecution of HRDs charged with plotting to overthrow Mnangagwa’s govt

By Court Reporter

HARARE Magistrate Learnmore Mapiye on Wednesday 9 October remanded
seven human rights defenders (HRDs) charged with plotting to overthrow
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to January next year and
warned the State that failure to provide the accused persons with a
trial date would result in their removal from remand.

The seven HRDs namely Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, George Makoni, Tatenda
Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Stabile Dewa, Rita Nyampinga and Pride
Mkono were arrested in May and August respectively by Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) officers who charged them with subverting
constitutional government as defined in section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

According to prosecutors, Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura, Mpahlo, Dewa
and Nyampinga, who are represented by Jeremiah Bamu, Tinomuda Shoko
and Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, allegedly
connived and travelled to Maldives on 13 May 2019, where they attended
a training workshop organised by Centre for Applied Non Violent Action
and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian non-governmental organisation, with
the intention of subverting a constitutionally elected government.

The prosecutors claimed that during the training workshop, the six
human rights campaigners were trained on how to mobilise citizens to
turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil
disobedience and or resistance to any law during some anticipated
national protests organised by some anti-government movements.

The law enforcements agents charged that Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura,
Mpahlo, Dewa and Nyampinga were also trained on how to operate small
arms and to evade arrest during civil unrest and on
counter-intelligence and acts of terrorism.

In the case of Mkono, he was arrested in August and charged with
subverting constitutional government as defined in section
22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act or
alternatively inciting pubic violence as defined in section 187(1)(b)
of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutors claimed that Mkono, who is the Chairperson of the Youth
Committee of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, posted some comments on
Twitter in January inciting members of the public to commit public
violence wherein he allegedly wrote that; “Fellow Zimbabweans, let us
all join hands and fight the regime head on. Let us all flood the
streets show our anger to the regime until the government concede to
our demands or leave office.”

In remanding the seven HRDs who are all out of custody on bail to 7
January 2020 and are reporting once every week at some ZRP stations,
Magistrate Mapiye said this should allow the State represented by
Charles Muchemwa enough time to put its house in order and furnish the
pro-democracy campaigners with a trial date when they return to court
early next year.