JOURNALIST Hopewell Chin’ono has spent a fourth night in remand prison after the magistrate hearing the case adjourned proceedings to today in line with curfew regulations decreed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This follows the denial of bail for opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume in the case in which the two are being charged with inciting public violence ahead of the planned July 31 anti-corruption protests.
Denying bail, magistrate Trynos Utawashe said Ngarivhume was a danger to the public because he would incite people to flout Covid-19 regulations on July 31.
“From reading of allegations, it is clear that he is not encouraging the public to conduct a peaceful demonstration. The right to demonstrate is not an absolute one,” Utawashe said.
Ngarivhume was remanded in custody until August 14, when he is scheduled to be back in court.Chin’ono and Ngarivhume were arrested on Monday this week.
Chin’ono’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the adjournment of the bail hearing makes a mockery of the requirement of an accused to be brought to court within 48 hours and that bail should be heard urgently.
“The reason of the postponement is that the court has to stop sitting at three o’clock because of the lockdown and the fact that the staff have to catch their bus before the curfew times come. We find this extremely frustrating because constitutional rights like the right to liberty have now been suspended through failure to make appropriate arrangements,” Mtetwa told journalists outside court.
“Surely, if everyone knows that there will be transport problems for staff from three o’clock, they should make arrangements when it comes to urgent matters like bail to take staff home after hours so that constitutionally guaranteed rights like liberty are not unnecessarily infringed,” Mtetwa said.
“It’s extremely frustrating, it makes a mockery of the need to come to court within 48 hours; it makes a mockery of the fact that bail be heard urgently,” the human rights lawyer said.