5 Marondera men jailed 30 years for police invasion during demo

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By Mashonaland East Correspondent

Marondera: Five men here were on Monday sentenced to six years imprisonment each after being convicted of invading a local police station last month, destroying and looting property worth over $30 000.

Magistrate Pasipanodya Maturure found the five guilty at the end of a full trial.

They were accused of being part of over 2 000 residents from the small town who took part in a violent protest 15 January this year through blocking roads, burning car tyres, assaulting police officers before invading Dombotombo police station and looting property.

At least 33 men, mostly male youths and high school students, have been arrested and remanded in custody facing public violence charges.

However, 13 of the residents were last week freed by Magistrate Maturure before he put the other five men on their defence and found them guilty on Monday.

A separate group of five other men who include two councillors from the opposition MDC are still standing trial, facing similar charges of public violence.

The five jailed men are being accused of taking part in a national demonstration organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The demonstration was against steep fuel and basic commodity increases.

One Marondera man, Solomon Nyaruwa, was reportedly shot dead by police officers on the day of the demonstrations.

However, in their defence, the five men, through their lawyer, David Dhumbura, pleaded not guilty and told the court that they were, instead arrested at their homes by armed soldiers and unidentified men in plain clothes who had come to assist the police after the attack on the police station.

But the State accused the five of breaking windows, doors, looting anti-riot police gear, cash, laptops and cell phones. Nothing was recovered.

Meanwhile, the residents of the small farming town, continue to leave in fear as armed anti-riot police and soldiers maintain a heavy presence amid fears that the State security agents are still hunting for other demonstrators.