Freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono has asked the High Court to order his release on bail by filing an appeal against Harare Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa’s decision to dismiss his freedom bid saying she grossly erred and misdirected herself by not setting him free on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Magistrate Gofa on Thursday 12 November 2020 dismissed Chin’ono’s bail application and ruled that the award winning freelance journalist had a propensity to commit offences and should remain caged at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
But in a bail appeal filed on Friday 13 November 2020 by his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Gift Mtisi and Doug Coltart of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Chin’ono argued that he is a suitable candidate deserving to be admitted on bail on the same conditions as those imposed on his previous case where he was charged with inciting people to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration during some anti-government protests in July.
Mtetwa, Mtisi and Coltart argued that Magistrate Gofa paid lip service to the presumption of innocence given that Naison Chirape, the Investigating Officer in Chin’ono’s case had admitted during proceedings in the lower court that he had not committed an offence through posting some tweets on 25 October.
Chin’ono was arrested on 3 November 2020 and charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors allege that the freelance journalist posted a message on his Twitter account intending to prejudice the matter in which Zimbabwe Miners Federation leader Henrietta Rushwaya is currently appearing at Harare Magistrates on charges of smuggling gold out of Zimbabwe.
The State alleges that Chin’ono created some communication lines with some unnamed National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officers and got confidential prosecutorial deliberations which he allegedly published on Twitter on 25 October to the effect that Rushwaya was going to be granted bail without any opposition by NPA officials.
By claiming to be engaged in a relationship with the NPA, prosecutors said the freelance journalist had jeopardised the integrity of the case against himself and that of Rushwaya.
Already, Chin’ono is scheduled to stand trial from 7 to 9 December before Magistrate Ngoni Nduna on charges of inciting people to revolt against President Mnangagwa’s administration.