MDC Alliance vice presidents, Tendai Biti and Lynnette Karenyi-Kore and other party leaders who were arrested at the Morgan Tsvangirai House on Friday have been granted $1000 bail each.
By Moses Matenga
The opposition leaders that included the party’s deputy secretary general David Chimhini, secretary for international relations Gladys Hlatywayo, her deputy Lovemore Chinoputsa and Vongai Tome, were arrested for allegedly contravening lockdown regulations after they had tried to access the party headquarters in Harare following a Thursday midnight takeover by the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe with the aid of the military and police.
Their lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told journalists outside court that her clients had complaints against police and that no COVID-19 regulations that include social distancing were observed in the cells.
“We have raised a number of complaints with the court in particular the failure to comply with COVID-19 regulations by the state,” Mtetwa said.
“Basically every requirement was breached by the state. They did not provide them with sanitisers, they did not provide them with masks, they did not observe social distancing, there was no water in the cells, they had to take their shoes off in the cells and they had to walk on the dirty floor that was not sanitised and unflushed toilets and for me it is ironic because the main charge now is they were alleged to breach the COVID-19 regulations.”
She said they will be formally going to the police station to lay a formal criminal complaint against the police for failing to ensure that they comply with regulations on COVID-19.”
There was confusion after the MDC Alliance officials briefly appeared at the courts before they were driven away without the knowledge of their lawyers.
Mtetwa said they raised that with the courts and that their clients were taken back to the station for another charge, that of not abiding to COVID-19 regulations, to be laid against them.
Speaking after attending the court session, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa said it was disturbing that the regime was using the courts and institutions of the states including the military in fighting “alternative voices.”
“We are not celebrating anything. They committed no offence. They went to our place of work to do what we have always done every day as leaders, as officials,” Chamisa said.
“What is quite disturbing for us is a new trend that we are seeing, a trend of abuse of our justice system. Turning our justice chambers into chambers of torture, chambers of malice and chambers of vindictiveness. We can see that there is now a political hand that is permeating our issues of justice and law being used as a weapon against those perceived to be on the other side of the political divide,” Chamisa said.
“We are beginning also to see the use of the military especially at Harvest House. The fact we had soldiers we have a cause for concern, it is a new low, a new abnormal.”