CITIZENS’ Coalition for Change activists Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri have accused the police, Zanu PF and the State of attempting to conceal the fact that they were torturers during their forced disappearance in 2020.
The two, who are accused by the State of faking their abduction by alleged State security agents, claim that they were subjected to inhuman torture, including being forced to drink and consume each other’s urine and stool.
They told the court yesterday that one of them was subjected sexual abuse and had her top torn before the muzzle of a gun was allegedly inserted into her privates after refusing to defecate and consume stool.
“Accused will tell the court that they are being persecuted by the State at the behest of Zanu PF for political purposes. They will specifically tell the court that whatever Zanu PF officials said in public media beforehand is exactly what would transpire to them.
“Their arrest and detention in connection with this offence were precipitated by such denigrating and derogatory statements in public media,” their lawyer Alec Muchadehama submitted.
The activists denied that they had communicated or published to any friends that they had been abducted and that none of the communications they made at the material time was false.
It is their argument that the abduction claims were being used by the State functionaries to abuse them.
“The accused persons will tell the court that they did not at any stage tell any relative, friend or lawyer that they had been abducted. This is a narrative being yanked by the police and the State in order to abuse the accused.
“As it stands, there is an extant judgement of the High Court in which a factual finding is made that the accused did not communicate to any person that they had been abducted as is being alleged or at all,” Muchadehama further submitted.
He argued that his clients had notified people that they had been arrested, which was confirmed by the police spokesperson Paul Nyathi, as quoted in State media at the time.
The counsel also said none of his clients’ r communications incites or promotes public disorder or public violence or endangers public safety and neither did it undermine public confidence in a law enforcement agency.
“Accused will further tell the court that they are being made scapegoats for being unlawfully arrested, disappeared and tortured. The iron is not lost to them the fact that they were taken into police custody was publicly acknowledged by the police. When the police thereafter failed to account for their whereabouts, the issue attracted world attention. This is why the police, Zanu PF, the State and those acting in cahoots with them want to hide what happened to the accused under the carpet,” Muchadehama said.
He said with what the activists had witnessed so far, they will not get a fair trial as the State allegedly was using all its apparatus to punish them for exposing them.
“As a result of the above, police, Zanu PF, the State and those acting in cahoots with them want to make the Accused persons bad examples of what Zanu PF and its stranglehold on the State apparatus can do if anyone dares to expose them.
“The accused do not entertain any belief that their trial will be fair in the circumstances. The State has invested all its apparatus and has brazenly employed every trick in the book to thwart a fair trial and has put in place rehearsed motions whose conclusion is open for all to see,” he submitted.
Their trial opened before chief magistrate Faith Mushure after she dismissed their application to have the case referred to the Constitutional Court.
Mushure also dismissed their application for a postponement of the matter to allow them to seek direct approach to the apex court.
The State led evidence from a Potraz manager Tapera Kazembe who sought to explain signals and data allegedly from Mamombe and Chimbiri’s cell phones as obtained through base stations.
The trial will continue today.
Allegations against the two are that on May 13 at around 1230pm the accused and other MDC-Alliance (now CCC) youths participated in a demonstration and later called their friends, family and lawyers saying that they had been arrested at a roadblock near the Showgrounds and were taken to Harare Central Police Station yet they were not.
On the same day, social media platforms and local newspapers were awash with news that the three had been arrested and later abducted which later turned out to be false and attracted adverse comments locally and internationally derailing the country’s economic recovery efforts.