110 arrested in Mash West (file) Suspects believed to have torched a bus being led into the Harare Magistrates Courts. — (Picture by Lee Maidza)

Mash West Bureau
Police here have arrested 110 people who were involved in criminal activities during the illegal stay away and subsequent violent demonstrations earlier this week. The suspects were arrested after participating in the violence that occurred from Monday to Wednesday in Chinhoyi, Magunje, Makonde, Karoi and Kadoma.

One person died while five others were injured in Kadoma after police tried to rebuff attacks by violent demonstrators who were attacking Rimuka Police Station and the Zanu-PF district headquarters. A police officer said the suspects were arrested for such crimes as disorderly conduct, malicious damage to property, unlawful entry and theft and public violence.

“We have arrested a total of 86 people for various crimes committed during the illegal stay away including some who broke in shops in Chinhoyi stealing foodstuff and electrical gadgets such as cellphones and plasma televisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, about 35 people appeared at the magistrates’ court in Chinhoyi and Kadoma facing charges related to the violence that erupted during the stay-away.

The trial of 15 people facing allegations of public violence continued on Friday with witnesses testifying before Chinhoyi magistrate Mr Felix Mawadze.

Property worth more than $57 000 was looted including groceries, computers and their consumables among others.

Two suspects had initially pleaded guilty to the charges before altering their pleas after a lawyer from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights took up the case. Prosecutor Mrs Kesia Teveraishe led evidence from Sergeant Moses Rutope, a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Response Team, who said police acted on a report of public violence and destruction of property at the Chinhoyi Main Bus Terminus Shopping Centre.

He said they found property destroyed and goods looted but people had dispersed into adjacent Gadzema suburb.

The team, he said, went to the home of Struggle Magonyo and his wife Alice Chikari where they recovered cartons of sugar and rice leading to their arrest.

However, lawyer Mr Mike Mutsvairo questioned the role of members of the Zimbabwe National Army and Central Intelligence Organisation in the operation. Sergeant Rutope said he could not answer for other departments and could only answer on matters to do with police officers in the team.

Another witness Tinei Katsawa, who was a security guard at Chicken Lounge, said people attacked the premises with stones around 6.30 on January 15.

He said he managed to identify Brian Chidoma who was carrying three pockets of potatoes and he followed him to his home.

“I saw him carrying the pockets of potatoes to his home and first took pockets inside before returning for the other one,” he told the Court.

In Kadoma, 20 people including top MDC-A leaders in the city appeared before the Magistrates’ Court for allegedly inciting public violence, burning of a Zanu-PF district party office and destroying various properties. Kadoma Magistrate Mr Takudzwa Gwazemba remanded the group, facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property, including MDC-A district chairperson Michael Gore, in custody to January 22.

The suspects include losing independent candidate for Kadoma Urban Edson Munyaradzi Matombo (43), losing MDC-A council candidate Mathias Rwakonda (31) and businessman Wellington Maketa. Gore and Maketa were arrested at the courts while attending the case of the 18 others.

In his bail ruling, Mr Gwazemba said the situation was still tense adding that the accused posed a great threat to interfering with State witnesses.

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