CCC interim leader, activists remain in jail, State opposes bail

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By Mary Taruvinga

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim leader Jameson Timba and opposition supporters arrested over the weekend will remain in jail after the State opposed their bail.

The opposition supporters were arrested on Sunday on allegations of participating in an unsanctioned gathering and disorderly conduct.

In their initial appearance, they challenged their detention arguing that they were brought to court after 48 hours had lapsed in breach of the law.

The presiding magistrate Ruth Moyo threw out their application without giving full reasons for her ruling.

The case continued after with the suspects raising complaints against the police officers who arrested them.

Through their lawyers, they submitted that the police were reckless.

“There was disregard of the accused’s rights in particular the right to fair treatment, the right not to be tortured and the right to be presumed innocent until found guilty.

“During the time of arrest the accused were severely tortured, they were made to crawl, they were punished before they were convicted of any offence,” said one of the lawyers representing the accused.

The lawyer also said there was excessive use of force during their arrest.

“During the arrest police used tear gas at a private residential property and also live ammunition was fired.

“The arrests were conducted unlawfully in that the accused were not informed of the reasons for arrests especially those who were arrested through a dragnet approach.

“After being apprehended the accused persons were made to dive into a swimming pool whilst putting on their clothes whilst holding their electric gadgets such as cellphones and in other words this exposed the accused to danger especially considering that not everyone can swim.

“As a result, most of the gadgets are no longer working. The swimming pool is located at a private residence.

“All accused were subjected to physical assault by the police, the assaults were inflicted randomly resulting in several injuries, and some of them still have visible injuries as we speak.

“There are accused who were soaked with water using horse pipe, they were also coerced to sexual mimic whilst lying on the ground.”

The other lawyers concurred with the submissions.

Thomas Chanakira representing the State said the issue will be investigated.

Chanakira opposed bail.

He called the evidence of the investigating officer Panganai Gwati.

“The accused are facing a charge which attracts imprisonment of a maximum of five years and by facing this serious offence and the likelihood of being convicted, they may be tempted to abscond,” he said.

Gwati also refuted assault allegations.

“When we meet challenges in effecting arrest we apply minimum force, for the public interest we need peace and as an IO who is in fear the accused should give some assurance on how the fear can be removed,” he said.

The hearing continues Thursday with the defence cross-examining the IO.