Saturday, 13 June 2020

MDC TRIO WENT SHOPPING AT TIME OF ABDUCTION : STATE


MDC-Alliance members — Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova — were spotted at Belgravia Shopping Centre in Harare at the time they claim to have been abducted by the police, a Harare magistrate heard yesterday.

The trio appeared in court on new charges of publishing false information or obstructing the course of justice. The State said it was in possession of video footage of the three at Belgravia Shopping Centre at around 4.45pm on May 13, the day they said they were abducted earlier in the afternoon. This emerged yesterday at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts, where they were being charged with publishing or communicating false information prejudicial to the State, with an alternative charge of obstructing the course of justice.

Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova, represented by lawyers Jeremiah Bamu and Alec Muchadehama, were not asked to plead when they appeared before Ms Bianca Makwande, but were remanded in custody until Monday for ruling on their bail application. 

The State, represented by Charles Muchemwa, Tafara Chirambira and Teddy Kamuriwo, opposed bail saying they were facing a serious offence and had gained sympathy in other jurisdictions, which may assist them to flee. The State said the trio faced a jail term of up to 20 years upon conviction.

“The borders are porous and they are likely to abscond trial,” said Mr Muchemwa. “They are facing a serious offence and there is overwhelming evidence against them.”

In their application for bail, the three told the court that they had other pending matters, charges of breaching lockdown regulations during an unapproved demonstration, which were more serious.

“The court must balance the interest of justice and the interests of the accused,” said Mr Muchadehama. 

“Nothing has been placed before the court to suggest the accused should be denied bail. Nothing came from the State in terms of evidence. The accused are denying the charges and the charges are nonsensical and they are being charged for nothing. They are now being turned into villains. The accused would like to make an undertaking that they will voluntarily avail themselves to police whenever they want them.”

The three told the court that they were seeing a psychiatrist as part of their recovery from hospital. They argued that they had since surrendered their passports to the Clerk of Court and there was no way they could abscond trial.

Ms Makwande remanded the three in custody to Monday for bail ruling.

Allegations against the trio are that on May 13 at around 12.30pm they gathered at Choppies Supermarket in Warren Park 1 with other MDC-Alliance youths and staged a demonstration against the recalling of their MPs from Parliament and the alleged misuse of funds for the Covid-19 pandemic by Government.

On the same day, they allegedly called their friends, family and lawyers, saying they had been arrested at a roadblock near Exhibition Park and were taken to Harare Central Police Station. Upon receiving the communication, their lawyer Mr Jeremiah Bamu reportedly went to the police CID Law and Order.

Mr Bamu is alleged to have approached a senior officer, saying the accused had been arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station. According to the State, checks were made and it was established that they were not arrested. 

On the same day, social media platforms and local newspapers were awash with news that the three had been arrested, it is alleged.

Two days later, on May 15 at around 1am, Mr Bamu advised the police that the three were at Muchapondwa business centre in Bindura.

The police and Mr Bamu went to the business centre, collected them and took them to a hospital in Waterfalls, Harare, since they claimed to have been tortured.

On May 19, Marova told a police detective that she was abducted and tortured by the police, with Mamombe and Chimbiri later interviewed on May 25, according to the State.

It is said investigations by the police revealed that they were never abducted, but allegedly stage-managed the kidnapping.

Further accusations are that during the time of the alleged kidnapping, they were at Belgravia Shopping Centre in Harare.

The State alleges that they were seen at around 1645hrs in a Mercedes Benz, which was being driven by Mamombe. Herald

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