70 activists remanded in custody

SEVENTY opposition political activists arrested on suspicion of masterminding an orgy of violence that rocked Harare last week have been remanded in custody to Monday. A Harare magistrate yesterday dismissed an attempted by the accused to challenge their placement on remand.
At least 68 people were arrested on Friday for their role in that day’s chaotic National Electoral Reform Agenda demonstration, whilst two were nabbed for allegedly burning a ZBC vehicle on Wednesday.
All were remanded in custody to tomorrow for their bail hearing after appearing before magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe on charges that border on arson, property destruction, assault and theft.
Among the accused were MDC-T youth leaders Promise Mkwanazi and Bruce Usvisvo, are accused of torching the ZBC vehicle.
The duo’s lawyer, Mr Tonderayi Bhatasara, challenged their placement on remand.
But Mr Chikwekwe said: “The application for refusal of placement on remand is dismissed because there is reasonable suspicion linking the accused with the crime.”
After the ruling there was drama in the court as Mr Bhatasara refused to accept the ruling forcing the magistrate to adjourn proceedings.
In his application Mr Bhatasara argued Mkwananzi was attending a workshop at the time the vehicle was burnt.
However, the State — led by Mr Michael Reza — said allegations against Mkwanazi were based on tangible evidence.
Representing the 68 arrested on Friday, Mr Jeremiah Bhamu told the court that his clients were arbitrarily arrested and some were senior citizens caught “in the cross fire”.
In his submissions Mr Reza said the arrests were not arbitrary as most of the accused were caught in the act.
“Every one of them has committed an offence that warrants a trial. What law stops senior citizens or pregnant women from committing crimes?” asked Mr Reza.
Some of the suspects complained of having been injured in last week’s melee. Mr Chikwekwe ordered they be given access to medical treatment.

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