State jails mentally ill man over August 1 electoral violence

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By Mary Taruvinga

A MENTALLY ill suspected MDC protestor endured the past one and half months in jail after he was among those arrested over the ill-fated August 1 public protests which saw the killing of six civilians by the army.

The demonstrations by MDC Alliance supporters were triggered by perceived delays in the announcement of the July 30 election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The suspect, whose identity is being protected, was arrested together with 27 other protesters who are currently out on $50 bail each.

He however could not secure bail due to lack of legal representation.

During his period in custody, the suspect would appear in court singing, exhibiting traits of a mentally ill person but the courts could still not release him.

He however finally managed to walk out a free man after his mother had brought his medical documents confirming that he was indeed ill.

Rights lawyers representing the rest of the suspects will now be representing the suspect who was released into his mother’s custody.

All the suspects including a former Zanu PF legislator and now MDC member, Shadreck Mashayamombe and political activist Jim Kunaka, among others, will be back in court on October 9 for their trial.

According to prosecutors, the suspects, together with over 500 protestors who were not apprehended, took to the streets demanding the immediate release of presidential election results on August 1 this year.

They allegedly burnt vehicles belonging to Zanu PF and destroyed shops in Harare central.

They are also being accused of burning President Emmerson Mnanagwa’s banners at the Zanu PF headquarters during the angry skirmishes.

None of the soldiers who opened fire on civilians has been arrested so far.

However, Mnangagwa has since named a commission of inquiry to probe circumstances behind the violence, coupled with the death of civilians.

Mnangagwa has said the panel would be expected to make public its findings within three months.