By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
A BREASTFEEDING mother is one of the 12 MDC Alliance officials who were Saturday arrested by armed police at the opposition party’s Chinhoyi offices for holding a meeting in defiance of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Pauline Sibanda was immediately separated from her six-month-old baby as she was force-marched to Chinhoyi Central Police Station, where she and her co-accused spent the weekend’s two nights in custody awaiting their court appearance this Monday.
The group’s legal counsel, Fortune Murisi of Murisi Attorneys said police had preferred charges of contravening Section 5(3)(a) of the Public Health (Covid-19-Prevention, Containment & Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Consolidation & Amendment) Order of Statutory Instrument (SI) 200/2020 as read with SI 10/2021.
“Accused persons are facing charges of illegally gathering in contravention of Covid-19 lockdown rules. They are expected to appear in court Monday, which falls on a public holiday, and we expect police to make necessary arrangements with the judiciary and bring them to court.
“Failure to do this means police will not have any option but release them as the permissible 48-hour detention period would have lapsed,” said the lawyer.
The 12 are part of the party’s Mashonaland West provincial administrative committee (PAC), which has a total of 15 members.
The arrested officials are; provincial chairman Ralph Magunje, Tawanda Bvumo, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Edward Dzeka, Kuda Mandishona, Kudakwashe Chigumo, Richard Vitirinyu Wilson Makanyaire, Abigail Usai, Collen Mapfumo, provincial spokesperson Blessing Mandava and Sibanda.
Speaking from police cells, Mandava described the arrests as unlawful.
He vowed to fight for the restoration of good governance in the country.
Meanwhile, there was a brief drama at Chinhoyi Central Police Station where angry MDC Alliance youths threatened to attack police officers for selective application of the law against their party.
They accused police of being willing appendages of Zanu PF whose members are instead allowed to gather in large numbers unhindered in total disregard of Covid-19 regulations.
The youths only dispersed after police, who had closed the main gate in panic, issued counter-warnings against the group.
On Thursday, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa officiated at a cookery competition at Chinhoyi University of Technology, witnessed by over 100 people, including dignitaries, security details, ushers, chefs, judges, heads of government departments and journalists.