New Zimbabwe.com

Activist breaks down as she relives Chikurubi horror

By Mary Taruvinga


ACTIVIST Farirayi  Gumbonzvanda (25), arrested on allegations of plotting to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, Thursday broke down uncontrollably while reliving her harrowing experience at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

Farirayi daughter to top human rights defender Nyaradzayi, was seeking bail before High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi together with her four suspected accomplices, who include Centre for Community Development’s George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, from International Socialist Organisation, Gamuchirai Mukura from Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad) and Nyasha Mpahlo of Green Governance Zimbabwe.

The girl-child activist who is volunteering at Rosaria Memorial, a Non-Governmental-Organisation (NGO) broke down saying she had been traumatised by the experience.

“I will do anything the State suggests if I’m to be granted bail,” she said.

“What I went through is so traumatising, for example during my first night at prison. We were bundled into the prison van which had no lights. I was rounded by male inmates who verbally abused me.”

Gumbonzvanda said prison wardens could not defend her.

“When we are being transported back to the prison, they don’t separate us from male inmates and on the day in question, the prison officers could not even defend me. I was assisted by my fellow female inmates who assured me that they will take care of me. There is no dignity at all, its so difficult sleeping through stinking nights,” she said before she broke down.

Proceedings had to be briefly stopped to allow her to calm down.

The 25-year-old activist also told court that she has nothing to fear because she is innocent.

Gumbonzvanda said she has vast international connections but chose to come home knowing an arrest was imminent because she is innocent.

“I would have been at my mom’s graduation as we speak, I would have been in South Africa or in Liverpool with my friends. I would have been in Nairobi with my uncle but I chose to come home because I love my country. I came back to clear myself of the allegations because I did not do anything the State alleges,” said the activist.

Gumbonzvanda added: “I want to be home because I miss my dog. I miss my puppy.”

The activist has since been transferred to Harare Central cells after she raised complains with ZPCS.

Through their lawyer Godfrey Mupanga who is being assisted by top human rights lawyers, Jeremiah Bamu and Jessie Majome, the five activists insisted that they are right candidates for bail

Mupanga submitted that the State failed to justify allegations against the accused adding several aspects were missing in the charges to support that his clients were flight risks.

“The applicants were fully aware that they were going to be arrested. The Herald broke the story about charges they were facing but still they came back. No evidence has been presented before the court to show that the applicants will abscond,” he said.

Mupanga said the State has nothing to fear considering that the accused’s alleged accomplices Beauty Rita Nyampinga and Sithabile Dewa have been arrested.

Prosecutors allege the suspects were trained on how to operate firearms among other things during their stay in Maldives.

It is  the State’s case  that they connived to travel to Maldives where they went through a training workshop organised by a Serbian Non-governmental Organisation called Centre for Applied Non-violent Action and Strategies (Canvas ).

This was allegedly done in a bid to subvert a constitutionally elected government.

It is alleged that during the workshop, they received training on how to mobilise citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience and or resistance to any law during the anticipated national protest by anti-government groups.

The court heard that they trained on how to operate small arms, evade arrest during civil unrest and were taught on counterintelligence and acts of terrorism.

The court heard that on May 27 they were intercepted and arrested upon arrival at Robert Mugabe International Airport while returning from Maldives.

Their personal laptops and cell phones, which contain the subversive materials were recovered from the accused and were sent to Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for extraction of evidence.

The court also heard that notes from the workshop conducted by the accused were also recovered.

Chitapi is yet to hand down his ruling on the bail application.

Prosecutors Chimbare, Makoto, Charles Muchema and T Mapfuwa appeared for the State.