Advocate Mahere and others: Case
Upon the arrest of Thobekile Ncube, Mudiwa Stephanie Mahere, Talent Trish Chademana, Pastor Patrick Mugadza, Advocate Fadzai Mahere, Henry Munangatire and Nyasha “Cee”Musanhu on Friday afternoon Zimbabweans witnessed a threat to their right to liberty. These individuals wanted to be part of going on the ground and speaking out against the impending bond notes and corruption under the banner #NoToBondNotes and #NoToCorruption. These two issues were meant to be what defined the #MunhuWeseMuroad demo that was a non-event on the same day. The six were picked up by riot police and they lounged at Africa Unity Square. This saw an uncertainty as to what the charge would be and if they broke any law (if any).
They spent a night at charge office in police custody and were set to appear in court, precisely Rotten Row Magistrate’s Court on Saturday morning. It was a gloomy start to the long Saturday in Court 5 at Rotten Row. In attendance were mainly the families and friends of the accused persons and off course associates of Advocate Mahere who are in the legal fraternity ranging from lawyers to activists. However, the absence of some human rights activists raised a lot of eyebrows.
Court 5 was the place that was going to determine whether these accused persons would see the limitation of their right to liberty or not. The anticipated time for the hearing to commence was 0830 hours but saw the arrival of the accused persons in the open truck of the ZRP at precisely 1145 hours. Some may think justice delayed is justice denied but it was left to be seen what the verdict would be. The six accused persons were accompanied by police in full body armour into the building and spoke to the seriousness of the offence or not. A brief glimpse of the accused persons as they made their way into the court house revealed that on the face of it they looked unharmed.
The presiding Magistrate in this case was none other than Douglas Vakayi Chikwekwe whom if you recall was the same magistrate who presided over the #ThisFlag Evan Mawarire case. I am pretty sure this fact saw many hearts stopping in anxiety in that court room. Not that anyone wanted to draw any parrarels from this.
The charge was contravening Section 37 of the Criminal Codification Act and before the magistrate arrived the courtroom was abuzz with one of the developments. This being the reason why they delayed to arrive at the court house was because the police were praying for a warrant for further detention of the accused persons. This got many worried that the accused persons were likely to be in police custody until Monday the 21st of November. The legal counsel for the accused persons was courtesy of Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers (ZHRL) namely, Jeremiah Mbambo and Obey Munyathi.
The long and short of the proceedings is that during cross examination the Investigating Officer Ben Justice who has served in the CID Division for 15 years was praying for further detention of the accused persons because he claimed that the accused persons are members of Occupy Africa Unity Square and he had two mystery witnesses who too are members of the same and wanted to confirm that. He claimed that these witnesses could not make court on the Saturday but by Monday they would be available and by then he would have gathered enough information for his investigation. The same officer went on to say he believed beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons would interfere with his investigation if released before Monday. Since the accused persons were ‘inciters of violence’ it would not be prudent for them to be given their liberty back. There was a moment when Mrs Mahere the mother to Fadzai and Mudiwa broke down in tears during the proceedings and this tugged at the heartstrings of many.
Court went into recess at lunch time and was to resume at 3pm upon the Magistrates demand for a proper 242 to be drawn up by the police.
After lunch the legal counsel prayed for the granting of bail for the accused persons as they met the requirements for the granting of bail. State council still maintained that they wanted the accused in custody until Monday hence opposed the bail application. Mr Chikwekwe insisted that he needed 20 minutes to draft his judgement. Unfortunately for state counsel when Magistrate returned from the recess he spoke of the clarity of the Constitution were granting of bail is concerned. He concluded by saying that the accused persons are of fixed abode and did not pose as a flight risk hence they satisfied the requirements for the granting of bail. Thus, the accused persons were asked to pay USD$100 each as bail and report to the Magistrate’s court on every Monday of every fortnight between 6 am and 6pm until the 1st of December 2016.
They were released.
Many thanks to @OpenParlyZw on Twitter for the updates and keeping the citizenry of Zimbabwe informed on the proceedings step by step.