Foiled MDC demo: 25 suspects remain in custody

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By Mary Taruvinga

TWENTY-FIVE suspected MDC supporters arrested last Friday for staging a foiled protest against economic hardships under the Zanu PF led government will have more time to languish in remand prioson after they were Tuesday denied bail by a Harare Magistrates’ Court.

The suspects stand accused of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence and breach of peace.

The 25, who include and a minor, appeared before four different magistrates demanding to be freed while basing on that it was their constitutional right.

The juvenile suspect was allowed walk out of court freely after being released into the custody of his mother.

Earlier, prosecutors requested that the protestors be detained longer, while awaiting investigating officers who were temporarily deployed in other cities where MDC had also planned its demonstrations.

But the presiding magistrates dismissed the requests saying it was he suspects’ right to be heard immediately.

Magistrates Lazini Ncube, Sheila Nazombe, Victoria Mashamba and Stanley Mambanje presided over the bail hearing in different courts.

In dismissing the applications, one of the magistrates Nazombe ruled that the State had provided compelling reasons warranting the continued detention of the group.

Nazombe said it was common cause that the suspects defied a court order and remained in Harare city centre.

“Such action shows the determination to participate in the demonstrations.

“If granted bail, they are most likely to participate in the demonstrations lined up for Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo,” said the magistrate.

“It is in the interest of justice that all accused persons be remanded in custody and bail is hereby denied,” said Nazombe.

Appearing for the State, Idah Maromo had opposed bail saying the suspects we’re arrested at crime scenes.

Prosecutors also opposed bail on the basis that they will interfere with witnesses who witnessed them participating in the demonstrations.

The suspects are being represented by human rights lawyers Tinomuda Shoko, Blessing Nyamaropa, Jeremiah Bamu and Gift Mtisi.

The lawyers argued that the 26 are of fixed abode, have no criminal history, no pending offences, hence there is no propensity to commit similar offences.