EIGHT Chiredzi residents are languishing in prison as they were denied bail last week after they were arrested and charged with contravening the provisions of the repressive Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) Act, which Zimbabwean authorities are abusing to ban opposition political parties’ pre-election campaign activities.
Farai Chauke, a 42 year-old lawyer, of Chauke and Associates Legal Practitioners, was arrested on Wednesday 5 July 2023 together with seven Chiredzi residents namely Mollen Shonhai aged 27 years, Gladmore Gungubu aged 18 years, Kudzai Madyira aged 27 years, Charles Mungate aged 50 years, Lloyd Mushari aged 26 years, Agrippa Dhambureni aged 29 years and Simon Hlomani aged 56 years after some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers threw teargas canisters at some opposition Citizens Coalition for Change Zimbabwe (CCCZ) political party supporters, who were reportedly gathered outside Tshovani Stadium in Chiredzi in Masvingo province.
Chauke, Shonhai, Gungubu, Madyira, Mungate, Mushari, Dhambureni and Hlomani were charged with failure to comply with conditions under which a meeting is authorised as defined in section 8(ii) of the MOPO Act.
Prosecutors alleged that the eight Chiredzi residents refused to comply with an order in which they were told to disperse from Tshovani Stadium after law enforcement agents prohibited CCCZ political party from holding a campaign rally which had been scheduled for Wednesday 5 July 2023.
Prosecutors claimed that Chauke, Shonhai, Gungubu, Madyira, Mungate, Mushari, Dhambureni and Hlomani, who were represented by Ross Chavi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, started singing some political songs and threw stones towards ZRP officers after being told to disperse.
On Friday, Chiredzi Magistrate Vimbai Mutukwa denied bail to the eight residents after ruling that Zimbabwe was now in pre-election season and that there would a propensity among them to commit similar offences.
Magistrate Mutukwa then remanded Chauke, Shonhai, Gungubu, Madyira, Mungate, Mushari, Dhambureni and Hlomani to 14 July 2023, where their trial is scheduled to commence.