SEVEN pro-democracy campaigners, who were charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, will have to wait for long before knowing their trial date after Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa dismissed their freedom bid.
The seven pro-democracy campaigners namely Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Stabile Dewa, Rita Nyampinga and Farirayi Gumbonzvanda, who were arrested in May 2019 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged with subverting constitutional government as defined in section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, had applied to be removed from remand arguing that State prosecutors had reneged on their undertaking to furnish them with a trial date.
But Magistrate Mugwagwa on Wednesday 8 January 2020 dismissed their application and remanded them out of custody to Friday 31 January 2020.
In dismissing the pro-democracy campaigners’ freedom bid, Magistrate Mugwagwa stated that their case was a complex one which ought to be tried at the High Court and that there had been some progress in the matter since the docket is now being perused by the Prosecutor-General as advised by State prosecutors.
The pro-democracy campaigners’ lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Jessie Majome told Magistrate Mugwagwa that if prosecutors once again fail to furnish their clients with a trial date, they should be removed from remand because the State must be pinned to comply with its undertakings.
Majome and Muchadehama also demanded that the State should release all the gadgets including some laptops, mobile phone handsets and passports which police officers seized from the pro-democracy campaigners as law enforcement agents had indicated that they had finished extracting information from the gadgets.
According to prosecutors, Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura, Mpahlo, Dewa, Nyampinga and Gumbonzvanda allegedly connived and travelled to Maldives on 13 May 2019, where they attended a training workshop organised by Centre for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian non-governmental organisation, with the intention of subverting a constitutionally elected government.
The prosecutors claimed that during the training workshop, the seven human rights campaigners were trained on how to mobilise citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience and or resistance to any law during some anticipated national protests organised by some anti-government movements.
Prosecutors charged that Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura, Mpahlo, Dewa, Nyampinga and Gumbonzvanda were also trained on how to operate small arms and to evade arrest during civil unrest and on counter-intelligence and acts of terrorism.
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