from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – A ZIMBABWEAN magistrate has set free three civilians charged with flouting lockdown regulations at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak last year.
Magistrate Barbara Mateko quashed charges against Blessed Changara (22), Barnabas Gura (32) and Terrence Manjengwa (26).
Police arrested the trio on September 3, 2020 outside Harare Magistrates Court while following proceedings for Zengeza West constituency legislator, Job Sikhala, who had been arrested and detained on charges of inciting public violence by urging people to participate during the July 31, 2020 protests.
Prosecutors claimed that Changara, Gura and Manjengwa unlawfully and unnecessarily moved from their places of residence during the national lockdown imposed by government in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus by gathering at Harare Magistrates Court without exemption letters.
Lawyer Kossam Ncube of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had objected to the charge of unnecessary movement during the national lockdown on the basis that it does not exist at law under the cited section.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is accused of taking advantage of the lockdown imposed last year to curtail protests.
His administration is under siege from economic and political problems.
– CAJ News