Marufu Mandevere, the lawyer representing 45 social justice and human rights activists told Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi that prison authorities at the weekend moved 17 male detainees from Harare Remand Prison to Harare Central Prison, where they placed them into solitary confinement.
“They were only allowed their relatives for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. This is a serious form of punishment. They are still innocent and there is no need to punish them,” said Mandevere.
Mandevere said all the female activists who were detained at Chikurubi maximum Prsion were subjected to hard labour before being brought to court on Monday.
“They are forced to work three hours between Monday and Friday cutting grass. The State doesn’t have the right to punish them before their conviction. It’s akin to slavery,” said Mandevere.
However, prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba who conceded that solitary confinement and hard labour were a serious violation of the activists rights denied the allegations.
“These submissions are designed to smear the image of the administration of prisons. The court should not be abused to preside over baseless allegations,” said Nyazamba.
Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi freed 39 of the activists after ruling that the State had failed to prove a case against them and ordered the defence lawyers to raise their complaints with magistrates in the
Only six detainees namely anti-debt campaigner Hopewell Gumbo, International Socialist Organisation (ISO) general coordinator, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Eddson Chakuma remain in remand prison after Mutevedzi ruled that there is reasonable suspicion that they committed a crime.
Mutevedzi said Gwisai, Choto and Mombeyarara convened the meeting to discuss the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
The magistrate said Gumbo, Zimuto and Chakuma were scheduled to deliver speeches at the lecture convened by ISO.