By Kumbirai Mafunda
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members on Thursday 11 June 2020 pressed a cocktail of charges including faking abduction and disappearance against three opposition MDC-Alliance party youth leaders, who are victims of abduction and torture after they re-arrested them on Wednesday 10 June 2020.
ZRP members charged Harare West legislator Hon. Joana Mamombe aged 27 years, Cecelia Chimbiri aged 31 years and Netsai Marova aged 25 years with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly making false statements to some law enforcement agents alleging that they had been unlawfully detained or kidnapped by some unknown people, who claimed to be police officers when they went missing on 13 May 2020 and dumped at Muchapondwa Business Centre in Bindura in Mashonaland Central province.
The trio is represented by Jeremiah Bamu, Roselyn Hanzi, and Tinomuda Shoko of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The law enforcement agents also charged Hon. Mamombe with contravening section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment, and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020. ZRP members claimed that Hon. Mamombe breached some national lockdown regulations on 24 April 2020 at Chichera farm in Marlborough suburb, where while in the company of some unnamed people, she unnecessarily moved around the farm while conducting some interviews with the farm tenants.
Marova and Chimbiri were also charged with violating section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after they allegedly participated in an anti-government demonstration held on 19 February 2020, where they held some placards written “Respect our Constitution”, “ED enda”, “Hatichada kunyengerera” and “Hatipihwe order nemasaskamu.
Already, Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri, and Marova are set to stand trial in August after they were first arrested on 26 May 2020 and charged with committing public violence for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest against hunger during the national lockdown period.
The trio, which was granted RTGS$1 000 bails and asked to report once in a fortnight at police stations, was accused of gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and for contravening section 5(3) (a) as read with section 5(1) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 of Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment, and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020.
Prosecutors allege that Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri, and Marova participated in an illegal demonstration held on 13 May 2020 in Warren Park 1 suburb in which opposition MDC-Alliance party supporters allegedly staged a flash demonstration protesting against hunger at a time when the country was under a government-enforced national lockdown.
The decision to press criminal charges against Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri nand Marova came at a time when the trio was receiving treatment at a local medical facility following their abduction, disappearance, and torture on 13 May 2020.
To date, no arrests have been made by ZRP members of people who abducted, disappeared, and tortured the opposition youth leaders with Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe accusing them of faking their abduction and torture, a charge which their lawyers deny.