UK: Terrorism trial of MDC activist starts; ‘urged’ bombing of Mnangagwa motorcade, Zanu PF HQ

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  • Teacher William Chinyanga, 51, has been charged with encouraging terrorism
  • The Zimbabwean activist allegedly called on followers to ‘open gunfire on a gathering of people’ in his home country 
  • Court heard remarks were made in Facebook videos to 7,000 followers
  • Chinyanga said to be MDC-alliance campaigner opposing Zanu-PF government
  • Teacher, of Archway, London denies with four counts of encouraging terrorism

A Zimbabwean activist called on his followers to carry out terrorist attacks to overthrow his country’s regime in a series of speeches, a court heard.

William Chinyanga, 51, is accused of encouraging bombings in the south-east African country in four speeches to 7,000 followers on social media over two days in December 2019.

It is claimed the supply teacher, who lives in north London, told Facebook followers to ‘open gunfire on a gathering of people’ and use ‘gorilla warfare’.

Chinyanga is understood to be a campaigner for MDC-alliance, a multi-party political bloc that opposes Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF government in Zimbabwe.

The Old Bailey was told he has been charged with four counts of encouraging terrorism, which he denies.

Prosecutor Sean Larkin QC said Chinyanga, who was born in Zimbabwe, sought asylum in 2009 and was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK

“There is no dispute he is an opponent of the Zimbabwean government,” he continued.

“He had a Facebook account and over a two-day period, the 1st and 2nd December 2019 he livestreamed four speeches to his Facebook followers, over 7,000 followers.

Teacher William Chinyanga, 51,

“He speaks in a mixture of English and Shona and he speaks against the Zimbabwean government.

“The prosecution case is that he went far beyond legitimate complaint or protest against the government and committed the offences with which he is charged.’

Jurors were told that Chinyanga was a ‘long-standing opponent of the Zimbabwean regime’ although only four of the speeches he posted were the subject of charges.

“In the course of these speeches he encouraged his followers to bomb the headquarters of Zanu-PF, bomb the motorcade of the leader of the Zanu-PF, bomb petrol stations, it seems with a view to disrupt the economy and bring revolution, attack police officers in their cars, attack soldiers.

“He encouraged his followers to share the speeches with others,” said Mr Larkin.

After police became aware of a speech he posted titled “The strategy to remove Announcement,” Chinyanga was interviewed on February 2020.

He admitted posting the speech and wanting to overthrow his country’s government and released under investigation, in the course of which officers found his other speeches.

The court heard that in the speech titled ‘Anyone in his right mind to open gunfire on a gathering of people its terrorism’ he called what happened in Zimbabwe ‘a disgrace’.

“What appears to have happened is that he would describe seeing some footage of police in Zimbabwe shooting a protesters, apparently in a tree planting matter.

“That is what triggered his speeches,’ said the prosecutor.

Jurors were told that the Zanu-PF party had been ruling the Southeast African country since its independence in 1980, for most of that time under Robert Mugabe.

In 2017 he was ousted in a coup by his own party and replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The teacher said in the dock wearing a suit, assisted by a Shona interpreter, as the prosecutor opened the case.

Chinyanga, of St Johns Way, Archway, denies with four counts of encouraging terrorism.

The trial continues.