Harare – The charge against detained Zimbabwe protest pastor Evan Mawarire has been altered to a much more serious one of “subverting a constitutional government”, according to a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Kumbirai Mafunda said in a brief online update: “Zimbabwean authorities have changed/amended charges pressed against Pastor Evan Mawarire to subverting a constitutional government in contravention of Section 22 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.”
The charge carries a possible 20 year jail sentence with no option of a fine, according to a copy of the Act seen by News24.
Crowds swelled on Wednesday outside the Harare Magistrates’ Court where they were singing and praying ahead of Mawarire’s expected bail hearing in the afternoon. In April, the churchman began an online movement to protest government corruption, an import ban and police brutality.
Arrested on Tuesday after a widely-followed strike last week, he was initially charged with inciting public violence. His supporters say he has consistently called for only peaceful protest.