MDC president Nelson Chamisa and top party officials were yesterday banned from attending the court hearing of organising secretary Amos Chibaya and deputy Sibusisiwe Masara causing a scene that resulted in heavy deployment of police at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts.
Chibaya and Masara appeared before Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa and made an application for exception to charges of failing to stop demonstrations held on August 16 last year despite a prohibition order.
They were represented by Nontokozo Dube-Tachiona and Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Chamisa was flanked by members of the MDC executive and legislators, including Douglas Mwonzora, Morgen Komichi, Chalton Hwende, Maureen Kademaunga, Daniel Molekele and Johanna Mamombe.
After Takundwa had dismissed the exception bid, prosecutor Mercy Ndingadii made an undertaking to contact the State’s star witnesses who were not in attendance for trial to commence at 11:15am.
When the court was about to adjourn for the next session, there was noise and booing from the gallery, prompting an infuriated Takundwa to declare that all who had come for Chibaya and Masara would not be allowed to attend the next session of the trial.
“Everyone who is coming for the Chibaya and Masara case is banned from attending in this court,” Takundwa ordered before Dube-Tachiona responded that the pronouncement was “unfair”.
When proceedings reconvened, Chamisa was no longer present and a truck loaded with riot police officers had been deployed to contain the MDC supporters.
Shava then notified Takundwa of his intention to apply for her recusal on the grounds that his clients doubted her impartiality in handling their matter.
“I have instructions to apply for her worship’s recusal subject to the court’s directions and will submit a written application.
“The basis is that my clients seriously doubt impartiality of the court in view of totality of everything that has happened since this matter was brought before this court,” Shava said.
The State will respond to the application before Takundwa makes the ruling on March 11.
Allegations are that on August 6 last year, Masara and Chibaya notified the regulating authority for Harare Central Police district of an intended public demonstration in central business district (CBD) on August 16 last year in the terms of section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act.
The court heard that opposition party was served with a prohibition notice by Chief Superintendent Billa James Simbanechako on August 15 but defied the order.