BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE hardest part about being a parent is watching your children go through difficult and rough experiences and not being able to do anything for them.
Such is the feeling of Jephias Moyo, whose 23-year-old son, Alan, has been in detention for close to two months now at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for allegedly calling for a revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student’s father said he is troubled by the continued detention of his son after High Court judge Justice Davison Foroma dismissed his bail appeal recently.
Moyo said he is “helpless” about his son’s situation.
“He is just a boy,” Moyo told The Standard in an interview.
“He does not have the capacity to overthrow this government.”
Alan was arrested early December last year when he was in his second-year of the Computer Science degree at UZ.
He was denied bail at the magistrate courts on charges of inciting public violence.
State prosecutors argued he was facing a serious offence, hence he was likely to abscond.
The State alleges that Alan and his colleagues, who are still at large, gathered at Copa Cabanna bus terminus and unlawfully addressed commuters waiting for transport, urging them to revolt against Mnangagwa.
“We miss him at home. His siblings are always asking when he is coming back. I had expected Alan to lead an ordinary life just like the other students,” Moyo said.
“I thought he would complete his studies and pursue a career, but after his detention, all the hopes have been shattered. When he was detained last year, I used to visit him each day but due to Covid-19, I am only restricted to visit him twice or thrice per week.”
Moyo said he has been restless since his eldest child was arrested, worrying over his safe return as each day passes.
Just like many others who sympathise with Alan, his father had hoped that Foroma’s ruling on his son’s bail appeal, which was delivered on Thursday, would end the 50-day detention, but the judge said the grounds of his appeal were “defective”.
“We are still strategising on the next move,” his lawyer Obey Shava of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said, following the dismissal of the appeal.
Several human rights activists and the civic society have condemned Alan’s prolonged pre-trial incaceration saying it was a violation of the constitutionally given fundamental rights, which was aimed at thwarting students’ activism.
Southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavhinga said Alan’s pre-trial incarceration was vindictiveness and punishment for activism, which was against the jurisprudence of the rule of law.
“Alan Moyo’s continued pre-trial detention is a violation of freedom of expression as guaranteed in the constitution. The pre-trial detention is unnecessary as it places him and many other detainees at great risk of contracting Covid-19, given the deplorable conditions in local prisons and how overcrowded the inmates are,” he said.
Mavhinga also said government should consider decongestion of prisons so that those awaiting trial like Alan, could do so from home.
Moyo fears that his son will contract Covid-19 as reports abound of inmates getting infected and succumbing to the virus while in prison.
In another application to the High Court, Alan, represented by ZLHR lawyer Gift Mtisi, filed an urgent chamber application, seeking an order to compel the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service to provide necessary equipment and sanitary facilities to protect them against Covid-19.
Alan, a leader of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu), is one of several activists who have been incarcerated for speaking against the government.
As was in the Mugabe era, student activism under Mnangagwa’s leadership has been constricted, and several tertiary education student activists have been arrested, detained and charged with inciting public violence.
Last year, Zinasu president Takudzwa Ngadziore was also detained for more than 30 days after he demonstrated outside Impala Car Rental Company, following the abduction of another student activist, Tawanda Muchehiwa.
In December 2020, nine Morgan Zintech Teachers College students were also arrested on allegations of inciting public violence after they demonstrated against the extension of the academic year.
“Let’s remember Alan Moyo who is in prison for saying that which we face every day. Pre-trial incarceration goes against the values of ubuntu in African philosophy. But we shall stand in solidarity with him all the way,” Ngadziore said in a tweet recently.
“He doesn’t like the place (prison). He wants his freedom,” Moyo said.