By Mary Taruvinga
HIGH Court judge Tawanda Chitapi Monday altered reporting conditions for freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was however ordered to pay an additional $10 000 bail deposit.
This followed his application requesting that all his reporting conditions be scrapped because he has shown no intentions to flee.
Through his lawyers, Chin’ono successfully argued he risked contracting Covid-19 by frequenting Highlands police station where he was reporting twice a week as part of his initial bail conditions.
However, Chitapi ruled that it was not in the interest of justice to relax all his reporting conditions.
Said Justice Chitapi in his Monday ruling, “Chin’ono’s main grounds for seeking the removal of reporting conditions is health based.
“He submitted that he stood at risk of contracting Covid-19 virus and dying from it if the number of visits he has to make to Highlands Police Station to report as part of the bail condition is not removed.
“The complete removal of reporting conditions is not in the interest of justice.
“It is ordered that condition imposed in CRB 6801/20 ref ACC 77/20 granted on September 2, 2020 in case CRB 1359/20 wherein Chin’ono is required to report to Highlands Police Station every Mondays and Fridays between 6 am and 6 pm is altered to read that Chin’ono shall report at Highlands Police Station once fortnightly on Fridays between 0600hrs and 1800hrs,” ruled Chitapi.
“The applicant shall make an additional deposit of $10 000 to the $10 000 ordered in case no. B1359/20.
“The bail orders granted in case no. B1941/20 reference ACC 235/20 and B95/21 reference ACC 353/21 remain subject to the altered conditions aforesaid and no additional recognisances are required to be made in regard thereto,” ruled Chitapi.
Chin’ono is facing three criminal charges.
He is accused of inciting public violence, obstructing the course of justice and publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the State.
Chin’ono was initially arrested and granted bail last September where he was ordered to pay $20 000 for his release.
He was again arrested on November 3 and January 10 with the same bail conditions of September 2 applied to the additional alleged offences.
The journalist was represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume had his application for the release of his passport dismissed.
However, his bail conditions have also been relaxed from initially reporting three times every Monday and Wednesday to once every week.
Ngarivhume will now report every Friday between 6 am and 6 pm at Waterfalls Police Station until his matter is finalised.