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Police arrest villagers as lawyers challenge abuse of Section121 in Mwonzora's case
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

May 10, 2011

Police on Tuesday 10 May 2011 arrested a Nyanga villager, Tonderai Nyabasa, for allegedly committing public violence three months ago, alongside Nyanga North Member of the House of Assembly and Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) co-chairperson, Hon. Douglas Mwonzora and 23 dwellers.

Nyabasa handed himself to the police, who detained him at Nyanga Police Station. The police indicated that they took orders from police detectives at the Law and Order Section at Mutare Central Police Station in detaining Nyabasa, who is expected to appear in court on Wednesday 11 May 2011.

Lawyers representing Hon. Mwonzora and the Nyanga residents, who were arrested in February and charged with violating section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for public violence filed an application before Nyanga Magistrate Ignatio Mhene seeking referral of the matter to the Supreme Court to determine the violation of several of their constitutional rights.

In their application, the lawyers, Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and David Tandiri of Maunga, Maanda and Associates Legal Practitioners, who is a member of ZLHR argued that their clients' rights to liberty, protection of the law and protection from inhuman and degrading treatment as enshrined in the Constitution were violated when they were arrested, abducted and detained in filthy police and prison cells in Nyanga and Mutare respectively.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that detention under conditions similar to those where Hon. Mwonzora and the other residents were incarcerated constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment.

The lawyers want the Supreme Court to determine whether or not the assaults, torture and denial of medical attention to their clients constitute inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Section 15 (1) of the Constitution.

Bamu and Tandiri also want the Supreme Court to determine whether or not the raising of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act against their clients denied them their protection of the law and infringed on their right to liberty in a manner that is not reasonably justified in a democratic society.

Further, whether or not in raising Section 121 (3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07), the State acted with mala fides (bad faith) and thereby contravened Section 18 (1) (a) of the Constitution.

Magistrate Mhene will deliver his ruling on the application for referral to the Supreme Court on 23 May. The Magistrate will also pass a ruling on an application which the lawyers filed seeking the release of a COPAC vehicle allocated to Hon. Mwonzora, which the police seized upon his arrest in February.

Magistrate Mhene also temporarily suspended the reporting conditions for Hon. Mwonzora together with four other accused people namely, Munyaradzi Mwonzora, Sekai Gombe, David Mutare and Richard Hazangwi until 23 May 2011 to allow them to attend to COPAC business where thematic committees are currently analysing and organising data collected from public outreach meetings.

Hon. Mwonzora and the other accused persons were reporting to the police once a week as part of their bail conditions since their admission to bail in March.

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