Harare kombi violence suspects freed on bail

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FIVE men facing public violence charges for allegedly stoning Harare Central Police Station during last week’s clashes between cops and kombi operators have been freed on $50 bail each by a city court.

Magistrate Aniah Ndiraya on Wednesday released Gibson Kataruware, Denis Kondo, Prince Ben and Emannuel Muzariri saying there was need to “promote the interests of the public”.

The other suspect, only identified as Agogo, is currently admitted at Parirenyatwa hospital where he is said to be battling for his life.

Defence lawyers had insisted on bail, arguing that it’s police who were supposed to be in the dock since it is public knowledge that two civilians were killed during the clashes.

No police officer has been arrested for the fatal shootings.

Prosecutors said that the suspects were arrested after a chase by the police, but defence lawyers rubbished the claim saying their clients were apprehended while seated in a kombi.

Police shot two people dead and injured four others during the confrontation over a ban on commuter minibuses in the city centre.

City authorities had banned minibuses from using pick-up points in central Harare in a bid to tackle traffic congestion, angering both drivers and passengers.

The ban was reversed within hours by the government, but police had already been deployed to implement it.

ZRP chief, commissioner general Godwin Matanga, has since apologised for the killings.

“As the (unbanning) directive was given, the police and other security agencies were still in the middle of the operation enforcing the ban and unaware of the cancellation,” he told reporters last week.

“Police officers fired shots that unfortunately killed two people and injured four others.”

Matanga said three police officers were seriously injured while three police cars were badly damaged in violent clashes that followed the shooting.