By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
Five activists protesting against President Robert Mugabe’s rule have approached the High Court to stop police harassment, according to a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) statement on Monday.
The five are part of the group that occupied Africa Unity Square from the beginning of June calling on Mugabe to leave over failure to reverse the current political and economic crisis marked by human rights abuses and a severe cash crunch.
The protesters, Patson Dzamara, Linda Masarira, Pride Mkono, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Dirk Frey, applied to the court so that it can bar the police from unlawfully interfering with their protest.
They filed their application last Thursday through Kudzayi Kadzere and Marufu Mandevere, who are members of ZLHR.
They named Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, the Officer Commanding Harare province and Home Affairs minister, Ignatius Chombo as the respondents.
The activists were on 20 June assaulted and injured by police officers and ordered to disperse from Africa Unity Square that has become a hotspot for protests.
The ZLHR said the protesters were threatened with more harassment if they continued occupying the square.
They are arguing that the unlawful assault and dispersal violated their constitutional rights that include the right to personal security and freedom from violence, insisting that they must continue with their civil disobedience.
High Court judge, Emy Tsanga, on Monday reserved ruling on the application after Tymon Tabana from the Attorney General’s office argued that the matter was not urgent.
“Justice Tsanga indicated that if she determines the matter to be urgent, the applicants and the respondents will be called back to argue the matter on merits,” reported ZLHR in its statement.
Tabana said the matter could not be heard on an urgent basis because the protesters had not notified the police of their occupation of the square.
“However, Kadzere and Mandevere opposed Tabana’s submission and insisted that the matter be heard on an urgent basis as they were challenging the unlawful assault and dispersal of their clients from occupying Africa Unity Square,” said ZLHR.
The police recently rounded up activists and brought them before the courts where they were granted $1,000 bail each.
Even though all of them are now out, they initially struggled to raise the bail money, which critics said was too high and was meant to disrupt the occupation by keeping the activists in jail.
Civil activism against the ruling Zanu PF government has been rising and is seen as a portent tool to pile pressure on the establishment. Nehanda Radio