LAWYERS representing MDC Alliance officials were yesterday involved in a high speed chase with detectives after they drove away their clients from court without notifying them.
MDC vice presidents Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore together with four other officials had been brought to court facing charges of violating Covid-19 regulations, following their arrest on Friday.
The MDC Alliance officials were brought to court crammed in a Toyota Quantum.
Detectives parked the kombi and went in to have their case vetted ahead of the court session.
However, prosecutor Clemence Chimbare, who had been assigned the case, was not available — prompting the detectives to drive off without advising the defence team — Beatrice Mtetwa, Charles Kwaramba, Jeremiah Bamu and Alec Muchadehama, of the development.
Mtetwa and her team gave chase to the detectives’ kombi, which was heading back to Harare Central police station.
The MDC Alliance officials were brought back to court at 1pm and finally appeared before magistrate Bianca Makwande at around 3pm.
The group was granted $1 000 bail each coupled with reporting conditions.
Makwande was told of “deplorable” conditions at the Harare Central police station, which the defence lawyers said were in breach of Covid-19 containment regulations.
She immediately ordered an investigation into the claims.
The defence team said the police station did not have running water, hand sanitisers and proper ablution facilities.
Mtetwa told the court that they were going to lay charges against the police following that breach.
“The police were completely not compliant.
“The accused persons were not subjected to any compliant procedures as they were not tested when they got to the station and there was no sanitisation, social distancing or masks provided.
“They were put in an overcrowded minibus with an officer who was incessantly coughing,” Mtetwa said.
“There was no water in the cells and the toilets were not working.
“The accused persons were made to take off their shoes and socks in a cell that was not sanitised.
“Because there was no water a damp sponge was used on each one of them and I need not go into what that means in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is our intention to lay a charge against the police of breaching the Covid-19 regulations,“ Mtetwa further told the court.
She also laid into the police for failing to inform them about what was happening during the morning when their clients were driven back to Harare Central police station.
“The police have taken it upon themselves to try and control how the court system is run.
“We were here at 8:30 am and they did not come until after 10 am.
“No communication was made and we were suddenly informed that the police were now going back to the station and there was no communication to an extent that we had to chase after them,” Mtetwa also said.
Chimbare apologised and said a report on the complaints would be issued on July 4.
Biti and his colleagues were arrested on Friday after they attempted to enter Harvest House, hours after it had been seized by Thokozani Khupe’s group on Thursday evening.
Khupe’s faction has been involved in a hammer and tongs tussle with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa for control of the MDC ever since the death of its founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai — who died of cancer of the colon in February 2018.