Beitbridge 17 freed on bail

Source: Beitbridge 17 freed on bail | The Herald July 21, 2016

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The 17 suspects who were arrested for staging protests in Beitbridge a fortnight ago and were charged for public violence, have been granted $50 bail each by a Bulawayo High Court.

The group is part of a mob of 74 people that was arrested on similar charges while protesting the implementation of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which removes listed products from the Open General Import Licence.

The demonstrations resulted in looting, vandalism of infrastructure and the burning of a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) warehouse and vehicles worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Among those who were granted bail by Justice Maxwell Takuva are two men from Bulawayo – Nqobizitha Mazibeli (26) and Njabulo Ndlovu (30); and, Thomas Mweya of Masvingo.

Other members of the group are: Daniel Gumbochuma (26), Hendrick Phiri (26), Addington Matiya (28), Lovemore Mbedzi (27), Edzani Moyo (32), Tshiyoka Muleya (30), Justice Mangezi (32), Miriam Phiri (24), William Rupiya (24), Farai Nyamhuka (23), Nigel Kaseke (29), Raodoff Hurudza (28) and Nhlanhla Moyo (26) and Norest Hove, all of Beitbridge town.

The gang is expected to appear in court tomorrow for trial. They were also ordered to stay at their given addresses and to report once per fortnight at Beitbridge Police as part of the bail conditions.

Beitbridge resident magistrate Ms Gloria Takundwa had earlier on dismissed their bail application saying if released, the gang was likely to disturb public peace considering that the situation in the country was still volatile.

She also ruled that the suspects were likely to interfere with witnesses since investigations were yet to be completed.

Ms Takundwa said the group was a threat to public peace considering that events unfolding in the country arose from the Beitbridge incident.

Messrs Reason Mutimba, Patrick Tererai and Lizwe Jamela for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are representing the group.

Beitbridge senior prosecutor Mr Jabulani Mberesi told the court that on July 1, the gang some of whom are cross- border traders, vendors and ordinary people gathered at Beitbridge Border Post main entrance to protest against the implementation of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.

He said they were addressed by the Police Officer Commanding Beitbridge, Chief Superintendent Patrick Majuta, to stop the demonstration, and that they should disperse since their gathering was unlawful.

He added that after the address, the gang turned violent, started singing, throwing stones and missiles towards the police.

They also marched, vandalising properties including traffic lights along the main highway and, barricading the roads using stones and other objects.

The court further heard that they marched in groups with other people who are still at large damaging shops and looting goods from shops before torching the Red Star whole- sale complex rented by ZIMRA.

to Red Star whole sale complex, which is now being rented for warehouse purposes by Zimra and set it on fire.

He said they also set on fire, four forfeited vehicles, which were parked outside the building and stoned 35 other vehicles within the same yard, extensively damaging them.

The suspects were later rounded up by police while targeting other properties.