TWENTY people who were arrested for allegedly staging violent protests in Beitbridge last Friday were yesterday denied bail.
The group is part of a mob of 74 people facing public violence charges for protesting the implementation of Statutory Instrument No 64 of 2016 which removes listed products from the open general import licence.
The demonstrations saw looting and vandalism of infrastructure as well as the burning of a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority warehouse resulting in vehicles worth hundreds of thousands of dollars being destroyed.
Among those who appeared in court were two men from Bulawayo, Nqobizitha Mazibeli (26) and Njabulo Ndlovu (30) as well as Thomas Mweya of Masvingo.
Other members of the group are: Hitherton Shoko (44), 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 Knowledge Vengesai (39), Nhlanhla Moyo (26), Delight Masuka (19) and Norest Hove all of Beitbridge town.
Beitbridge resident magistrate, Ms Gloria Takundwa, dismissed their bail application yesterday 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 state witnesses since investigations were yet to be completed.
Mr Reason Mutimba and Mr Lord Mudau from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners respectively, are representing the 20 suspects.
Beitbridge area 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 Officer Commanding Beitbridge, Chief Superintendent Patrick Majuta, who told them to disperse since the gathering was unlawful.
Mr Mberesi said after the address, the gang started singing and then turned violent. He said they threw stones and missiles towards the police. They also marched, vandalising property on their way and barricaded roads using stones and other objects.
The court further heard that they damaged shops and looted goods.
Mr Mberesi said the group, with others who are on the run, later set a Zimra warehouse on fire.
He said the group also set on fire four forfeited vehicles which were parked outside the building and stoned 35 other vehicles within the same yard. The suspects were later rounded up by police while targeting other properties. herald