THE High Court on Friday granted bail to Harare West legislator Joana Mamombe (MDC Alliance) and two other young female opposition activists who assert they were MDC Alliance activists.
The three were granted $10 000 bail each coupled with stringent conditions. They were ordered to report to the police three times a week, hand in their passports, not interfere with witnesses, reside at given addresses, and not to communicate with media including social media in connection with their case.
High Court Judge Justice David Foroma ruled that bail had been improperly denied by the Magistrates Court.
“In the circumstances, the exercise of the court a quo’s discretion denying the appellants bail pending trial was improperly impugned. The appeal accordingly succeeds,” he said.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere told journalists that her party was grateful that justice had been served.
“In court we were hearing the bail appeal ruling for the MDC trio of Johana Mamambe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. The court granted them bail on quite stringent conditions. They were ordered not to speak to the international press, not to go on social media and to report to police three times a week but obviously what’s critical is that they have been granted bail.
“As a political party we are most grateful. Bail is a Constitutional right; we believe we have been vindicated. For women who were abducted, tortured for them to be jailed for a period of over two weeks in the manner that they were, was to turn justice on its head,” she said.
Allegations against the trio are that on May 13, at around 12.30 pm, 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 Jeremiah Bamu reportedly went to the police Criminal Investigation Department Law and Order section.
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 the trio were neither arrested nor abducted.
Two days later, Bamu went to the police and told them that the trio had been found in Bindura.
The police accompanied him to Bindura where they found the trio and took them to a private hospital in the capital.
The three claim they were sexually assaulted by state agents but however then arrested for allegedly lying about the abduction ordeal.
They face up to 20 years in prison.
The women had been in detention for more than two weeks after a Magistrate’s Court court denied them bail, saying they could flee before the conclusion of the case.
They appealed. Judge Davison Foroma ordered the activists to surrender their passports and report three times a week to police as part of the bail conditions.
They also cannot “communicate whether directly or otherwise with any section of the public or private media, including social media, in connection with the matter” until the case is over, the judge said.
They face prison or a fine after being accused of making false statements to police “alleging that they had been unlawfully detained or kidnapped by some unknown people who claimed to be police officers.” The women are also accused of intending to incite violence with their statements.
Political tensions are high in Zimbabwe, where inflation above 750% is stoking anti-government sentiment.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the minister in charge of police, Kazembe Kazembe, have claimed that the three women fabricated the story of their abductions as part of a wider plot to destabilize the government.
The women also face charges of contravening Zimbabwe´s coronavirus lockdown because they organized an anti-government rally.
The women allege that after they were arrested in May for organizing the rally, police allowed them to be taken away from the police station by unidentified men who beat and sexually abused them. The women were missing for nearly 48 hours before being dropped by a roadside about 90 kilometers