Protesters fail to pay bail; Biti visits

Source: Protesters fail to pay bail; Biti visits – NewZimbabwe 14/06/2016

LAWYERS representing the Occupy Africa Unity Square protesters who were granted $1,000 bail by a Harare magistrate at the weekend, say they will file an appeal seeking the reduction of the amount.

Some of the protestors remain incarcerated after failing to raise the bail cash. They were arrested on what the opposition describes as “trumped up charges of robbing two women” in square which is located in central Harare.

Former finance minister and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti, on Tuesday, visited the detained protestors at Harare Central Prison and Chikurubi Women’s Prison.

The youthful activists were staging a 16-day protest against “President Robert Mugabe’s misrule”. Also arrested was journalist Paidamoyo Muzulu who was covering the protest.

Following their arrest last week, the activists appeared before Harare Magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe who granted them $1000 bail each.

Only three of the accused managed to pay the stipulated bail amount with the rest remain in custody.

In an interview with Tuesday, the accused persons’ attorney, Obey Shava, of Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni Legal practitioners, said they were going to court on Wednesday.

“If everything goes well, we will be back at the courts tomorrow (Wednesday) appealing for the reduction of the bail amount because it is too high,” he said.

Shava said he would also put it to the courts that his clients were being persecuted for demonstrating against government.

“The actual reason behind the arrest of my clients is that they have been occupying Africa Unity Square which is their right in terms of the Zimbabwean constitution in a country where they have the right to demonstrate and present petitions.

“Unfortunately, the police knew that they could not charge them for demonstrating or for occupying Africa Unity Square because it is not an offence.

“So they had to come up with these funny charges of robbery and defeating and obstructing the course of justice.

“We will be saying this in court and we will bring it to the attention of the court that this is politically motivated.”

Meanwhile, the activists complained about the lack of food during the visit by PDP leader Biti.

They said prison officials were refusing to allow visitors to bring them food from outside the prison complex citing health reasons.

Biti also heard that food sold in the prisons was also very expensive with a two-litre plastic bottle of Coke, which is sold outside for $1,20 is going for $4 while a one-litre bottle of water, which is sold for $0.75 in supermarkets is going for $1, 50.

These astronomical prices, the activists said, were forcing inmates to go hungry most of the times as prison food was inadequate and poorly prepared.

According to a PDP statement, the activists told Biti that despite the unlawful arrests and unfavourable prison conditions, they were determined to see “that the evil Zanu PF rule was brought to an end”.

“President Biti urged the activists to remain focused and strong despite the attempts by Zanu PF to use state machinery to clamp down on opposition forces.

“He said he was working hard in ensuring that they were released from remand prison as a matter of urgency,” the party said.

Biti was accompanied by the PDP secretary for international relations Willias Madzimure.