Harare West legislator Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri will spend another night in custody after Magistrate Stanford Mambanje postponed his bail ruling to Thursday at 9 am.
Mamombe and Chimbiri are being charged with contravening section 177 of the Criminal Code that is undermining the authority of the police or alternatively contravening section 11 of SI 83 of 2020 they allege that hindering or obstructing police officers during the performance of their national lockdown duties.
Speaking to journalists after Magistrate Mambanje’s ruling Charles Kwaramba of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who is representing the two said the allegations do not constitute a risking the accused person to COVID-19 in prison.
“The allegations here are that these girls were driving in their car and the police in theirs also and they shouted at each other and if you put that on a scale. This is about a verbal exchange which we deny but assuming that this verbal interaction had occurred, is it something that you can put accused person at risk and further congest prisons that are already congested.
“Is it a basis upon which you can detain people and keep them in custody. When you go to prisons they (Mamombe and Chimbiri) mentioned that the situation is not good that is in their view. It’s not about the prisons, everywhere the situation is not pleasing,” said Kwaramba
He said they were hoping and expecting a favourable bail outcome tomorrow.
Prosecutor Audrey Chogumaira had argued that Mamombe and Chimbiri were not proper candidates to be set free on bail and are “undermining the court system” which when granted bail they may commit other offences.
Outlining his defence Kwaramba said the duo is being targeted as part of political persecution since Mamombe and Chimbiri are opposition MDC Alliance party youth leaders.
Kwaramba said the charge of contravening national lockdown was repealed and hence the charge is defective.
Kwaramba told Magistrate Mambanje that the duo was arrested while coming from medical checkups at Doctor Norman Matara medical chambers and had been advised to undergo some procedures and treatment.
He said Mamombe and Chimbiri were only arrested by Zimbabwe Police who assumed that they were part of a demo allegedly staged at New Govt Complex and yet they weren’t part of the protests. Kwaramba says the state is being malicious in charging Mamombe and Chimbiri.