January violence: Close to 400 jailed

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By Staff Reporter

CLOSE to 400 people have been jailed for the violence that rocked the country in January this year.

The violence was triggered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to announce a 150% fuel price hike that had a domino effect on prices of basic goods and services.

Labour federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) reacted by calling for a stay-away that turned into an orgy of violence bringing business to a halt for close to a week.

Authorities announced 1 000 people including children had been arrested for the riots that forced Mnangagwa to deploy the army. Live ammunition was used with civil society and human rights groups claiming some 17 people had been killed while dozens were left with gunshot wounds amid claims of rape by the army.

According to a report compiled by the police titled; “Summary of convictions on public violence cases”, which occurred from 14-16 January as at 0600hrs on March 31 2019, at least 375 people had been convicted.

The executive summary of the report seen by provides a detailed breakdown and geographical spread of the arrests, detentions and convictions indicating that of the 375 found guilty, 225 are in Bulawayo, 69 in Harare, Mashonaland West (27), Mashonaland Central (14), Manicaland (19), while Masvingo had no convictions.

Mnangagwa’s home province of Midlands, at 124, has the highest number of those convicted followed by Mashonaland West with 63. These were ordered to pay fines.

Top opposition officials including Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe, party deputy treasurer Charlton Hwende, among others, are on trial for allegedly instigating the violence and now face up to 20 years in jail after being charged with subversion.

The Zanu PF leader’s close associates at the time claimed there had been an attempt to force Mnangagwa out of power, forcing him to abandon a four nation tour of EuroAsia in what authorities said was a decision “to deal with the situation at home.”

Mnangagwa however laughed off the suggestion of an insurrection. The report shows all provinces including normally docile rural areas were affected by the violence.

According to the report, eight people were sentenced to eight year jail terms; six will serve half a dozen years in prison, 40 people will spent four years behind bars with 92 jailed for a year each.

Some 12 people got suspended sentences while a few others were canned.

There is however no indication as to what has happened to children that at some point police claimed had been released into the custody of their parents as required by law.