Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The 20 suspects who were arrested for staging violent protests in Beitbridge last Friday and charged with public violence were yesterday denied bail by a local magistrate court.
The group is part of a mob of 74 people who were arrested on similar charges while protesting the implementation of Statutory Instrument No 64 of 2016, which removes listed products from the open general import licence.
The demonstrations resulted in looting, vandalism of infrastructure and the burning of a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority warehouse and vehicles worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Among those who appeared in court were two men from Bulawayo: Nqobizitha Mazibeli (26) and Njabulo Ndlovu (30), and Thomas Mweya of Masvingo.
Also charged were Hitherton Shoko (44), Daniel Gumbochuma (26), Hendrick Phiri (26), Addington Matiya (28), Lovemore Mbedzi (27), Edzani Moyo (32), Tshiyoka Muleya (30), Justice Mangezi (32), Miriam Phiri (24), William Rupiya (24), Farai Nyamhuka (23), Nigel Kaseke (29), Raodoff Hurudza (28), Knowledge Vengesai (39), Nhlanhla Moyo (26), Delight Masuka (19), and Norest Hove all of Beitbridge town.
Beitbridge resident magistrate, Ms Gloria Takundwa, dismissed their bail application yesterday saying if released, the gang was likely to disturb public peace considering that the current situation in the country was still tense.
She also ruled that the suspects were likely to interfere with witnesses since investigations were yet to be completed.
Ms Takundwa said the group was a threat to public peace considering that events unfolding in the country arose from last Friday’s protest.
Mr Reason Mutimba and Mr Lord Mudau for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners are representing the group. Beitbridge area prosecutor, Mr Jabulani Mberesi, told the court that on July 1 — the gang—some of whose members are cross border traders, vendors and ordinary people gathered at Beitbridge Border Post main entrance to protest against the implementation of the Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.
He said they were addressed by the police officer commanding Beitbridge, Chief Superintendent Patrick Majuta to stop the demonstration and that they must disperse since their gathering was unlawful.
He added that after the address, the gang turned violent, started singing, throwing stones and missiles towards the police.
They also marched, vandalising properties including traffic lights along the main highway and barricading the roads using stones and other objects.
The court further heard that they marched in groups with other people who are still at large, damaging shops and looting properties from such shops.
Mr Mberesi said they later proceeded to Red Star wholesale complex, which is now being rented for warehousing purposes by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and set it on fire.
He said they also set fire on four forfeited vehicles, which were parked outside the building and stoned another 35 vehicles within the same yard thereby extensively damaging them.
The suspects were later rounded up by police while targeting other properties.