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‘Protesters’ appear in court

FIVE MDC Alliance officials and 19 suspected supporters appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court yesterday facing public violence allegations.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Alleged protesters file into Harare Magistrates Court yesterday. Picture: Shepherd Tozvireva

The charges are in connection with Wednesday’s protests against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) over the alleged delay in releasing presidential election results. The protests were brutally crushed by the military, who opened fire using live bullets, resulting in the death of at least six people and injury of scores others.

Losing MDC Alliance candidate for Harare South Shadreck Mashayamombe (35), Tapiwa Joni (27), Ngonidzashe Mukazhi (26), Michael Mheta (31) and Simbarashe Mujeye (37) were among the accused persons who appeared before magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini, who remanded them in custody to Monday for bail ruling.

The accused, who were represented by members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were arrested at Harvest House party headquarters on Friday while Mashayamombe was arrested at the Harare Magistrates Court where he was expected to appear in court on a separate charge of violence allegedly committed last year.

The state alleges that on August 1 this year, the accused persons, acting in common purpose with others who are still at large, gathered at Harvest House and connived to protest against the alleged delay in the announcement of last Monday’s presidential election results by Zec.

It is alleged the accused persons were chanting and singing MDC Alliance songs and at the same time ordering vendors and the business community to join them.

The police then dispersed them since they had not been notified and the protesters went in different directions.

The state alleges the accused, together with more than 500 others, proceeded to the Zanu PF Harare provincial headquarters along 4th Street where they threw missiles at the building destroying 27 windows and 12 precast wall lights.

A Nissan Wolf, Ford Ranger, Toyota Allion, Honda Fit, Yutong bus, Mazda and several other vehicles belonging to the Zanu PF party were destroyed.

The accused persons were again dispersed by the police.

The state alleges the accused persons were identified by witnesses who were at the Zanu PF Harare province headquarters.

The value of the destroyed properties is yet to be ascertained.

The other 19 accused persons, who include among them Midlands State University students and several unemployed youths, appeared separately before the same magistrate.

According to the state, the 19 accused persons together with others who are still at large staged an illegal protest to force Zec to release the presidential election results.
It is alleged the accused persons, together with more than 4 000 accomplices, went to Market Square rank police post and the besieged seven police officers who were manning the post and threatened to assault them.

The accused persons proceeded to Rezende Street and pulled down a bill- board which had the portrait of president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and burnt it.

They allegedly then proceeded to a KFC fastfood outlet where they stoned and damaged four large screen windows valued at $700. The accused allegedly proceeded to Bakers Inn and destroyed large screen windows worth $8 000.

The state alleges the accused persons were intercepted by a police reaction team and they dispersed and ran away towards Harvest House.

The accused then allegedly locked themselves inside the building. Police cordoned off the area and managed to arrest them.

Michael Reza appeared for the State.

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