MDC-A legislator,youth assembly activists denied bail

A Harare magistrate  on Monday denied bail to an opposition lawmaker and two activists accused of lying to police about being abducted and tortured last month,

Movement for Democratic Change Alliance MP Joana Mamombe and party youth assembly activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were arrested at their lawyer’s offices last Thursday.

They had visited the lawyer to discuss another case in which they were charged for staging a protest last month.

The three women were admitted to hospital with various injuries after they were arrested in that case and said they had been taken to a location out of town by unidentified men who allegedly beat them and sexually assaulted one of them.

“They have been denied bail,” a spokesperson for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Kumbirai Mafunda, told journalists after they appeared in court.

“The magistrate agreed with the prosecution’s submission that there were compelling reasons for not releasing them on bail, saying they are likely to abscond coming to court for trial,” he said.

They have denied making false reports to the police.

MDC-Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere has queried how the women could be said to have lied about their abduction and torture when they had injuries to show for the assaults.

They said they had been taken from a police station by unknown men, and had been beaten and one of them sexually assaulted.

The government has accused them of fabricating the story.

Human rights groups have described the case as the latest example of political oppression in Zimbabwe.

Last Wednesday, nine UN special rapporteurs – who do not speak for the UN but report their findings to it – called on Zimbabwe to drop the earlier charges against the women and stop the reported pattern of disappearances and torture.