Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary for information and publicity, Douglas Mahiya will spend two more nights behind bars after a Harare magistrate deferred his bail application ruling to tomorrow.
BY MARY TARUVINGA
Mahiya was arrested on Wednesday on charges of undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority following a scathing communiqué by war veterans attacking the veteran ruler.
Regional magistrate, Vakai Chikwekwe postponed the bail hearing, saying he wanted to make an informed ruling.
Chikwekwe also said he wanted to wait for a prosecution certificate from the Prosecutor General’s office.
The magistrate’s decision angered hordes of war veterans and their sympathisers who vented their anger at police officers manning the courts.
Justice Johann Kreigler, a former South Africa Constitutional Court judge and George Bizos, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer, who also represented MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai in his treason trial, attended yesterday’s hearing.
They were part of a group of legal experts that observed the trial, including members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The State opposed Mahiya’s bail, arguing he should remain in custody for his own security.
“Heavy police presence even confirms that his life is in danger and there may even be clashes with the police. Security of the accused is not guaranteed if released because there is a public outcry over these allegations. If released, there is likely to be a clash between his sympathisers and those against his utterances,” prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema said.
However, Mahiya’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo argued that the State’s submissions were weak and not linked to the current case in any way.
He said it was his client’s constitutional right to be out of custody while awaiting trial.
“How can you do that for the sake of denying the accused person his liberty?” Nkomo queried.
“The accused must not be judged by the character of others. His judgement must be done in line with what State alleges he personally did.
“The argument about his security is lame. How can the police be a threat to his security when their obligation is to ensure there is peace? If released today, it is still their duty to make sure he is safe.”
The State alleged that Mahiya committed the crime between April and July this year.
Nkomo said Mahiya had had no confrontations with security agents or anyone during his incarceration, hence he was fit for bail.
He also told the court that his client sacrificed his education at a tender age to fight for the freedom of the country.
Nkomo told the court that Mahiya did not own a passport and has never left Zimbabwe since 1988, so there was no risk of him absconding.
Mahiya’s wife broke down after the bail ruling was postponed and had to be carried out of the court by relatives.