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MDC Alliance duo Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri denied bail

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |

MDC Alliance duo Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri, who are facing a “frivolous” charge of undermining the authority of the police, have been denied bail by magistrate Stanford Mambanje.

Opposition MDC Alliance youth leaders Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri will spend another night in police custody as their bail application failed to start because of delays by prosecutors.
Opposition MDC Alliance youth leaders Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri will spend another night in police custody as their bail application failed to start because of delays by prosecutors.

Harare West MP Mamombe and youth activist Chimbiri are being charged with contravening section 177 of the Criminal Code that is undermining the authority of the police or alternatively contravening section 11 of SI 83 of 2020.

Its alleged they hindered or obstructed police officers during the performance of their national lockdown duties. That State was led by prosecutor Audrey Chogumaira while the duo was represented by Charles Kwaramba of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

In his ruling, magistrate Mambanje argued the accused persons had committed the alleged crime while on another bail of two pending cases hence he denied them freedom.

“The court has heard the state crying out loud about the accused committing crimes while on bail,” he said. “Their conduct has stretched the patience of the court.”

Mambanje remanded the two in custody to the 13th of February. 

“It would appear as if the bail conditions of the previous cases did not deter them from committing further offenses

The onus will be on the accused persons to show that there is no repetition of crimes which in this case has failed,” he said.

While making its submission, the State argued that the two had a propensity of committing crimes citing the fact that they were arrested last year again over “trumped” up charges of allegations of faking their abduction adding that they must be denied bail.

“The accused persons are not new in this honourable court.

“The bail system is undermined if you see the same persons committing crimes time and again while on bail. They are undermining the bail system,” the State submitted.

But their lawyer, Kwaramba dismissed the State’s position arguing the law the opposition officials were being charged with did not exist. He added that intended to punish the two by placing them in remand over a “false charge, a fatal defect charge”.

“That ground alone is not sufficient to deny the accused freedom. It should be supported with a record of a criminal record. But do the accused persons have a criminal record,” Kwaramba said.

“It is not about how many times the accused persons were arrested. They lead the youth department in their political party. It has become inevitable that they become the target of the state.”

He added: “What the state is asking you to do is to read the other arrests that they faced and to punish them with a detention.

“The statutory instrument which they are being charged was actually repealed. The SI 83 of 2020 was repealed by SI200 of 2020.

“The State is here arguing strenuously about allegations which allegations is now no longer the law. It is a false charge, a fatal defect charge,” he said.

Kwaramba blasted the State again saying, “It tells you we have a state that has not applied its mind on the matter. These accused persons were warned and cautioned with a repealed charge.

“They have not been formally charged with undermining police authority. They were arrested for a different offense which is repealed.”

“The only reason why they were arrested is that there had been a demonstration in town and when the police saw them they thought they were coming from the demonstration.

“These police officers are tarnishing the image of the country by bringing frivolous matters to the court’s attention,” Kwaramba said.

Mamombe together with colleagues Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were arrested in May last year and charged with allegations of faking their abduction.

These allegations came regardless of the activist being taken by suspected state security agents from police cells, dumped in Bindura and found after four days with injuries on their bodies.

Kwaramba said he would appeal against their continued detention at the High Court. Nehanda Radio