NINE agents from the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) seized pastor Evan Mawarire and interrogated him after he arrived at Harare International Airport, a local court heard Friday.
The anti-Mugabe pastor, who was arrested Wednesday on charges of trying to subvert the government will remain in custody after magistrate Elisha Singano ruled that there was sufficient evidence linking him to allegations.
He was detained as he returned home after fleeing to the United States last year.
At Friday’s court hearing, the cleric was ordered to apply for bail at the High Court and remanded in custody to February 17.
He however, appeared unfazed, telling supporters when leaving the courts not to worry about him because “justice will be served.”
Magistrate Singano ruled that although the cleric was exercising his rights, there were negative consequences which emanated from his campaigns on social media.
“Rights to demonstrate are provided for in the constitution but it is the same constitution that limits those rights.
“His actions resulted in the shutdown of the country and violent protests so his conduct links him to the crime,” said the magistrate.
Mawarire’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo who was being assisted by Jeremiah Bamu complained that his client was arrested by nine members of the CIO before he even went past the immigration point at the airport.
The lawyer told court that the CIO officers refused to identify themselves but went on to interrogate the clergyman.
Nkomo said citizens were allowed to support or challenge the government peacefully.
"Nowhere in the outline is it written that he told Zimbabweans to be violent. Those who like the government have shown it several times but they were not arrested," said the lawyer.
State prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said they were hearing the allegations about the CIO for the first time although they were interacting with Mawarire's lawyers since Wednesday.
Nyazamba applied for placement of Mawarire on remand saying he was facing a third schedule offence which, upon conviction, would see him face a 20-year jail term.
The state alleges that Mawarire resisted the introduction of bond notes, urged citizens to demonstrate against government's failure and to shut down Zimbabwe in July last year.
It’s state’s case that citizens took hid of his calls and embarked on violent protests which resulted in the destruction of property.
"He (Mawarire) urged all Zimbabweans not to go to work and revolt against the government," said Nyazamba.
"There were violent demonstrations in the country where several properties were damaged."
Mawarire, who appeared in court in hand-cuffs and carrying a Bible, is expected to apply for bail on Monday.
The government's charges are linked to his role in organising protests against 93-year-old President Mugabe outside the United Nations during a gathering of world leaders last year.
Mawarire is also accused of using social media to incite "violent demonstrations" in Zimbabwe between August and last month, inciting public violence and insulting the national flag.
The economy of this once-prosperous southern African nation has crashed, and both unemployment and frustration are widespread.
Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, has said Mawarire and others should leave Zimbabwe if they were unhappy with the situation.
It was not immediately clear why Mawarire chose to return home this week. Some in Zimbabwe had criticized him for leaving the country amid the protests. At the time, he said he feared for the security of his family.