Harare, (New Ziana)-The Harare Magistrates Court on Thursday adjourned to Friday the bail hearing for one of the alleged backers of the planned 31 July street protests, Hopewell Chin’ono, as courts are closing early due to the Covid-19 curfew that the government imposed.
A freelance journalist, Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume of the relatively unknown political outfit called Transform Zimbabwe, who were both arrested on Tuesday, are being accused of fronting plans to hold anti-government protests on July 31 in contravention of the country’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
In adjourning the bail hearing, magistrate Ngoni Nduna said, “Court staff need to get home before the curfew starts at 6 PM”.
This was after examination and cross-examination of state witnesses had taken most of the bail hearing.
Zimbabwe, like most other countries around the world, is under a nationwide lockdown to try and limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed hundreds of thousands and infected millions globally.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday set stricter lockdown rules and imposed a 12-hour dusk to dawn curfew which began on Wednesday.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been rising sharply in the past month, particularly local transmissions, with new cases averaging 100 a day.
As of Wednesady, the country had recorded 2 034 cases, with 26 deaths.
In view of the rising cases of the pandemic, the government has re-instituted the ban on all social, religious and political gatherings.
But the opposition and some civic society groups, under the guise of protesting against corruption in the country, plan to hold month end anti-government marches.
Ngarivhume has been widely quoted in the media in recent weeks threatening the protests on July 31 would go ahead with or without government permission while the state alleges Chin’ono, a prominent social media user, has also been allegedly linked to the same protests.
Earlier on Ngarivhume was denied bail in a separate courtroom after the State proved that if admitted to bail, he would proceed to lead the planned demonstrations.
In denying him bail, Magistrate Tranos Utahwashe said previous opposition-led protests had ended in bloodshed, widespread looting and destruction of property.