12 Chamisa Allies Acquitted Of Illegal Gathering During Lockdown

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

TWELVE Mashonaland West Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) officials arrested last year at the party’s Chinhoyi offices while holding a meeting have been acquitted.

Authorities claimed the meeting contravened Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

The 12 are part of the party’s Mashonaland West provincial administrative committee (PAC).

The officials are; provincial chairman Ralph Magunje (50), Tawanda Bvumo (47), Emmanuel Chinanzvavana (48), Edward Dzeka (45), Kuda Mandishona (45), Kudakwashe Chigumo (50), Richard Vitirinyu (40), Wilson Makanyaire (38), Abigail Usai (47), Collen Mapfumo (35), provincial spokesperson Blessing Mandava (43) and Pauline Sibanda (27).

Magistrate Lisa Mutendereki freed the dozen CCC activists following full trial.

During the lengthy trial, the 12 through their lawyer Fortune Murisi, argued they did not commit any offence and described their arrests as unlawful.

Defence argued they were attending a funeral meeting to make burial arrangements for a deceased member, and that their number was within the prescribed 30 people.

The group was facing charges of contravening the national lockdown restrictions by holding an illegal meeting, knowing that such gathering was prohibited.

The state case, led by Review Nikisi, was that on February 20, 2021 at around 1pm, the accused persons, acting in common purpose with others who are still at large, gathered at the then MDC Alliance party offices at 11048 Fairview, Mzari, Chinhoyi, to hold an illegal meeting.

The accused persons were not exempted to attend such a gathering under the Covid-19 regulations.

Police were tipped off on the gathering, leading to their arrest.

Contacted by over the acquittal, an ecstatic CCC provincial chairman Magunje welcomed the court’s verdict, describing it as “victory for democracy”.

He added the state’s allegations that there were more than 35 people gathered at the party office buttressed the fact that the arrests of 12 top officials was dramatised persecution.

“Assuming there were more than 30 people as alleged, did the police use black magic to arrest only the 12 provincial administrative committee members in their order of seniority,” Magunje said rhetorically.

He added: “As CCC provincial management committee we are extremely happy with the court outcome. This just goes to confirm that allegations against us were meant to stifle our political performance as the biggest opposition and government-in-waiting.

“Zanu PF tried to stick charges under the guise of Covid-19 inorder to slow our political activism in the province, but we have been exonerated on the basis of our clear and accurate heads of arguments. The courts found no merit in our arrests, but this was just persecution.”