from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ONE of the world’s best-selling books is among exhibits Zimbabwean authorities are basing their allegations at the commencement of the trial of a human rights lawyer and trade union leaders accused of plotting a campaign of civil disobedience against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Prosecutors are building a case against the suspects after they were arrested last April during a training workshop in Harare, where they were allegedly found in possession of the book, entitled “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”
Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, authored the book in 1968 and was banned in some countries, including apartheid South Africa, for challenging authority. It has sold over 750 000 copies globally.
Human rights lawyer Douglas Coltart (aged28), Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Secretary-General Robson Chere (35), as well as Jessica Drury (33), Munyaradzi Ndawana (32) and Precious Ndlovu (32) have appeared at Rotten Row Magistrates Court in the capital Harare for the commencement of their trial.
They are facing charges of “participating in a gathering with intent to promote public breaches of peace or bigotry.”.
The state charged that some police officers who arrested the activists recovered some material which was being used during the alleged training and which included the book, five paper sheets with various messages, crayons, assorted pens, a cup, point markers and sticky notes among other materials.
However, their trial could not commence after lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa protested against the state’s failure to furnish her clients with some relevant state papers and some exhibits relevant to the case.
Mtetwa also told Magistrate Usheunesu Matova that state security agents tortured some of her clients during arrest and detention.
Matova ordered the state to probe the allegations.
The mater has been adjourned to April 6.
– CAJ News