Treason accused NGO boss Rashid Mahiya denied bail

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By Mary Taruvinga

HEAL Zimbabwe director, Rashid Stewart Mahiya (44), arrested Monday on subversion charges, was Tuesday denied bail by a Harare magistrate.

Mahiya, who is Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chair, is accused of inciting the deadly anti-government protests of last month.

He was on Monday brought before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa facing charges of subverting a constitutional government.

Mahiya was not asked to plead and was advised to apply for bail at the High Court since he is facing a serious offence.

“We do not have any complaints against the police and I have read and explained the charge to the accused. He understands the same,” said his lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara, a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

According to the state, Mahiya committed the offence between December 3 and 6 when he allegedly convened a meeting which involved activists from his Heal Zimbabwe Trust and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Court heard he led the meeting in his capacity as Crisis board chair.

Mahiya is accused of inciting activists of the two and the general populace to subvert a constitutionally elected government through urging them to engage in acts of civil disobedience.

It is also alleged that he pushed for “passive disobedience to law, public violence, hooliganism and rampant looting across Zimbabwe.”

As a result of the utterances, prosecutors and those of his accomplices, court was further told, the public engaged acts of violence through damaging government property and looting shops among other acts. The alleged incidents happened between January 14 and 16 this year.

“These utterances indeed caused members of the public to commit acts of public violence and rampant looting,” said prosecutor Shepherd Makonde in opposing bail.

Mahiya is said to have gone into hiding before he presented himself to the police on Monday in the company of his lawyer.

He will be back in court on March 12.