HARARE – Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti has appealed for $8 000 to help free 11 young activists who have been occupying Africa Unity Square on a 16-day protest against President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
The activists are facing two counts of robbery and defeating the course of justice.
Despite having been granted bail last week, the activists remained behind bars at Harare Central Prison and Chikurubi Women’s Prison respectively, after they failed to raise the money.
Patson Dzamara was granted $1 000 bail, Pride Mukono was given $1 000 bail, Oliver Chikumba $1 000 bail, Irvine Takavadii $500 bail, Tatenda Mombeyarara $1 000, Shadreck Dhliwayo $500, Makomborero Haruzivishe $1 000, Brian Kasunzuma $500 bail, Linda Masarira $500, Munezhu Mandova $500 and Pamela Mawire $500.
“I am a concerned Zimbabwean and a human rights lawyer and I know most of the incarcerated people personally,” Biti said, adding that he supports the activists’ cause to protest.
“I brought them food. I was concerned that these activists are fighting on behalf of the people, but they were granted bail last week, yet Zimbabweans couldn’t do anything, that’s horrible,” the former Finance minister said.
He urged Zimbabweans to mobilise funds to ensure the release of the activists.
The State alleges that on June 9, around midnight, two female complainants disembarked from a commuter omnibus at Fourth Street Bus Terminus.
They passed through Africa Unity Square on their way to Copacabana Bus Terminus to get transport to Mufakose.
The State claims Dzamara and his accomplices confronted the complainants and snatched their handbags before searching them.
They allegedly stole the three ladies’ school uniforms, red jersey, pair of trousers, jean skirt and wallet with $30.
The other complainant lost three school jerseys and one floral dress.
When the complainants screamed for help, the court was told, three police officers who were on duty near Parliament rushed to the scene.
It is alleged that the accused persons resisted arrest and took away constable Nhidza’s cap and baton stick while allegedly dragging him into a Honda Fit that was said to be parked along Jason Moyo Avenue.
According to court papers, Dzamara and his accomplices were later arrested and police recovered the stolen property valued $80.
On the June 10 and 11, 2016, the Harare Magistrate’s Courts granted bail to the young activists but have failed to post the bail.
“They, however, remain in solid spirits bar the fact that they feel let down,” Biti said.
The female activists are at Chikurubi with a different set of challenges, he said.
Mandova is nursing a three-month old baby who was snatched away from her when she was picked up from the park on Thursday.
“Thankfully, the girls have a lot of blankets as the place only has 90 prisoners after 285 were released on presidential amnesty.
“However, the reduction in the prison population has meant a shortage of labour. The activists, even though on remand, are being forced to do forced labour which they tell me is as demeaning as it is excruciating. They also complain of horrible food and the absence of sanitary arsenal.
“These activists have been granted bail which remains outstanding. Surely, we owe them this little,” Biti said.
“…I appeal for urgent help for the required bail money which must be paid …”