MDC-A duo denied bail again
MDC-Alliance’s Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri, who are accused of violating the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, have been denied bail because they exhibit the propensity to continue committing similar offences, a Harare magistrate has said.
Mr Dennis Mangosi said the two allegedly committed the offences they are now facing and other charges while on bail and releasing them would compromise the proper administration of justice, The Herald Reports.
He said this while denying Mamombe and Chimbiri bail on changed circumstances. The two are facing allegations of violating Covid-19 regulations when they gathered for a Press briefing at the Harare Magistrates Court.
“The accused committed other offences while on bail and that propensity is still there,” said Mr Mangosi in his bail ruling.
He noted that Mamombe, as a lawmaker, was supposed to obey the laws while Chimbiri was also supposed to abide by the laws of the land like any another citizen.
The court also noted that the State had provided the duo with a trial date expressing its commitment to bring the matter to finality.
Mr Mangosi remanded the duo to April 26 in the interim while they are expected to appear in court on May 5 for trial.
Mamombe and Chimbiri, through lawyers Mr Alec Muchadehama and Mr Jeremiah Bamu, had argued that a lot of time had lapsed since they were denied bail on their initial appearance.
They told the court that investigations carried out failed to change the State’s case against them. “At present, the investigations have not established that which strengthen the State case.
Instead, investigations revealed that State case has weakened in the sense that there is a clear indication that State failed to show evidence of its compliance with SI200/20 (Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020).
“Those provisions of SI200/20 requires that arresting details ought to have dispersed the gathering if it was unlawful. Concurrently, the arresting details ought to have dispersed, order them to observe social distancing and wear masks.
“Upon resisting, the details would take appropriate measures including arresting them. What we expected from them was factual demonstration that these steps were followed prior to arrest,” said Mr Bamu.
Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020 relates to the containment of the spread of Covid-19. Prosecuting, Mr Lancelot Mutsokoti opposed the application saying nothing had changed from the day the two were arrested.
“There are no changed circumstances that warrant release of accused on bail as they must show that new facts have arisen before a judicial officer who initially heard their bail.
The reason why they were denied bail was that they were likely to commit similar offences. High Court Justice Chitapi denied them bail on same grounds.
“In their submissions they did not give new facts and prove that they will not commit similar offences. There has been no long time since they initially appeared in court in March,” he said.
MDC Alliance responded saying bail is a constitutional right and also condemned the duo’s month-long incarceration. Said the party in a statement:
The MDCA duo have been denied bail a 3rd time. The court ruled that there were no changed circumstances. This pre-trial incarceration is designed to persecute these brave women for standing up to the regime. #FreeOurHeroes
Some commentators criticised the courts for denying bail to Mamombe and Chimbiri and accused the judiciary of being captured by the ruling party.