Zimbabwe: Violent Protesters Seek Discharge

Seventy-four protesters who allegedly torched vending stalls at Copacabana Bus Terminus in Harare before looting shops and attacking the police in August last year, yesterday applied for discharge. The group, which includes Petros Sokole (39) and Paradzayi Manyara (39) is represented by lawyers Messrs Trust Maanda, Jeremiah Bhamu and Harrison Nkomo. In their application for discharge at the close of the State case, Mr Maanda told the court that evidence led before the court did not link the accused.

The State had called four witnesses, but Mr Maanda said no shop owner came to testify and no evidence was led on the allegation of assaulting the police.

The prosecutor, Mrs Idah Maromo, opposed the application and said she would file her response by Friday.

The magistrate Ms Barbara Chimboza will make a ruling on March 20.

The group pleaded not guilty and in their defence presented alibis.

It is alleged on August 26 last year, the group held a public gathering at an open space between Rainbow Towers and Interpol offices close to the Harare Magistrates’ Court and conspired to proceed into the CBD where they caused sporadic violence.

The court heard that they assaulted police officers and set ablaze vending stalls at Copacabana.

They allegedly stoned a Land Rover Defender belonging to the police before breaking into shops and looting clothes and groceries.

Meanwhile, the matter between political activist Patson Dzamara and his accomplices Oliver Chikumba (32), Tatenda Mombeyarara (33), Pride Mukono (26) and Makomborero Haruzivishe (33) accused of robbery and defeating the course of justice was heard by Harare magistrate Ms Josephine Sande yesterday.

Their lawyer, Mr Obey Shava, applied for exception to the charges. Mr Shava told the court that the State was relying on same witnesses and statements for the two charges.

“At law you cannot use the same evidence and same essentials to prove two offences. The State is talking about the same event, but want to split charges,” said Mr Shava.

The prosecutor, Mr Peter Kachirika, asked for time to file his response and the court will make a ruling on March 23.

It is alleged that the quartet robbed two women who were passing through Africa Unity Square.

The women, Nomsa Dube and Angela Chuma, screamed for help and when the police rushed to the scene, the group assaulted the police officers and resisted arrest, the court heard.

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