Over 30 Violence Accused Bulawayo Residents Freed

By Professor Mutodzi

Bulawayo, October 11, 2016 – ZIMBABWEAN authorities have once again been humiliated after prosecutors dropped public violence charges against more than 30 Bulawayo residents including some school children who were arrested and charged for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest.

In July, police arrested 33 Bulawayo residents in Mzilikazi high density suburb whom they charged with committing public violence during an anti-government protest held on 06 July to demand political and economic reforms from President Robert Mugabe’s administration.

The 33 residents were accused of contravening Section 36 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 or alternatively Section 131 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for unlawful entry into premises.

Prosecutors from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) claimed that the 33 residents participated in an anti-government protest held in July and famously dubbed #ShutdownZim2016, where they unlawfully disturbed the peace, security, or order of the public by blocking Luveve Road with stones and burning tyres and threw stones at police officers and police vehicles before looting Mzilikazi Supermarket.

Among the juveniles were six school children including a primary school pupil who had to endure some time in police detention until they were rescued by their lawyers Lison Ncube, Jonathan Tsvangirai and Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

But on Monday, the Bulawayo residents were set free after the NPA withdrew public violence charges against them for lack of evidence.

In withdrawing charges before plea against the 33 residents, Jeremiah Mutsindikwa of the NPA indicated before Bulawayo Magistrate Charity Maphosa that the State was dropping the case because of lack of sufficient evidence to pursue prosecution.

Zimbabweans have in recent months been resorting to staging protests to express dissatisfaction with President Mugabe’s government’s management of the troubled southern African country’s affairs.

 

In response, the government has employed heavy-handed tactics to descend against some protesters whom have been arrested while some have been assaulted and tortured. The government has also promulgated legislation to ban the staging of protests in the capital Harare.