Setback For Mangoma As Court Sets Free MDC-T Youths

Harare, March 5, 2014 – Five MDC-T youths who were arrested and charged with assaulting the opposition party’s deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma have been set free after being granted bail as it emerged that police had arrested another youth leader over the alleged yanking of the former Energy and Power Development Minister.

Last week, police arrested MDC-T youths namely James Chidhakwa, Francis Machimbidzofa, Samson Nerwande, Steven Jahwi and Enock Mukudu and charged them with assaulting Mangoma in contravention of Section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23). The arrest of the MDC-T party youths came after Mangoma reported his “assault” at Avondale Police Station last month and which the police responded by launching a manhunt for the suspects.

But on Wednesday, Harare Magistrate Tendai Mahwe and High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa freed the youths after they endured more than one week in both police and prison custody.

Justice Musakwa granted Chidhakwa $200 bail and ordered him to report to the police once a week and to surrender his passport to the clerk of court.

Machimbidzofa, Nerwande,  Jahwi and Mukudu were ordered to pay $100 bail, report to the police once a week and not to interfere with investigations.

In granting the MDC-T supporters bail, Douglas Mwonzora, one of the lawyers representing the MDC-T youths told Radio VOP that Magistrate Mahwe had ruled that the state’s case was extremely weak that it could not secure a conviction.

“From the video which we showed in court, it was clear that it was not them (MDC-T party youths) who assaulted Mangoma,” Mwonzora said.

Radio VOP also understands that police on Wednesday arrested Paul Gorekore, a former MDC-T councillor in connection with the alleged assault of Mangoma. The arrest of Gorekore brings to eight the number of MDC-T supporters who have been questioned about the alleged assault of the opposition party’s deputy-treasurer. Harare central constituency legislator Murisi Zwizwai and Dennis Murira, two lieutenants loyal to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai were questioned by Harare police and later freed.

Mangoma claimed that he was assaulted by supporters loyal to Tsvangirai after a party leadership meeting held at Harvest House, the MDC-T headquarters last weekend.

The deputy-treasurer-general drew the ire of the majority of the MDC-T party supporters after he called for the resignation of the former trade union leader outside the party’s formal structures. But Mangoma insists that his approach was a frank method aimed at rejuvenating the party after being defeated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party in the July elections. Tsvangirai has already condemned the harassment of party leaders and has publicly stated that those who “yanked” Mangoma’s shirt outside the party headquarters will “face the music.