Opposition activists to further languish in jail as Investigating Officer rushes to attend to pregnant wife midway through testimony

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By Mary Taruvinga

Panganai Gwati, the Investigating Officer in the matter Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists are accused of stoning police officers on Thursday abandoned the witness stand midway through his testimony after receiving news that his pregnant wife had been hospitalised in Rusape.

The suspects will further languish in jail awaiting the finalisation of their bail.

Prosecutor Thomas Chanakira asked for a postponement of the hearing stating that no one was there to continue with the testimony.

“The IO has received a message from his pregnant wife who is in Rusape so there is no one who can continue to give evidence.

“He needs to rush to Rusape because the wife is in hospital,” he said.

The presiding magistrate Ruth Moyo rolled over the hearing to this Friday “for further clarifications.”

The court heard that provisionally two witnesses are supposed to testify.

Gwati gave his testimony on Wednesday nailing the interim CCC leader Jameson Timba and his 79 co-accused whom he accused of being violent.

He said the activists stoned police officers and also promised to cause terror in their homes.

He denied having brutalised the activists telling the court that as police officers they always use minimum force when arresting suspects.

The activists however insist they were physically abused by the arresting details who forced them into a dirty swimming pool.

Some of the suspects had visible injuries while some sustained fractures during their arrest.

They also accused the police of humiliating them by making female suspects strip their tops in the presence of men.

On top of that, their lawyers submitted that their clients were made to mimic sexual movements while lying on the ground.

On Thursday the case continued with the lawyers cross-examining Gwati.

One of the lawyers, Webster Jiti asked Gwati if it was a crime to protest in Zimbabwe and he said it was not.

Under cross-examination, Gwati also said it was not unlawful for politicians to sit down as a group and deliberate.

Gwati confirmed that no law in Zimbabwe prohibits people from gathering at a private residence.

The activists are being represented by Jiti and other rights lawyers including Jeremiah Bamu, Agency Gumbo,  Kelvin Kabaya and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa among others.

Thomas Chanakira is representing the State.

Jameson Timba’s son, Shaun who was arrested along with the activists has been granted US$100 bail. His lawyers argued he was only at the Avondale residence to deliver a Father’s Day gift.