Harare (New Ziana) – Detained political activists, Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume will spend the weekend in remand prison after their bail appeal hearings which were due to be heard by the High Court on Thursday were again postponed to Monday, their lawyers said.
The bail applications were initially set for Wednesday, but were postponed to Thursday as the record of proceedings from the Harare magistrates court were yet to be delivered to the High court.
Courts, in compliance with the law, are operating with skeletal staff for limited hours due to the Covid-19 lockdown and curfew, causing delays in some court processes.
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume were arrested last week on allegations of inciting public violence, and denied bail by the Harare magistrates court.
They were remanded in custody to early next month for trial.
Subsequently, both applied for bail at the High Court.
Chin’ono was remanded in custody to August 7, and Ngarivhume to August 6.
The duo are thought to be at the centre of plans by the opposition and some civic groups to hold street protests on July 31, ostensibly against top-level corruption.
But the government, citing intelligence reports, has said the protests were renewed attempts by the opposition to unseat it unconstitutionally, and banned the planned marches.
It has also cited dangers of spreading Covid-19 during the marches, as precautions against the pandemic such as social distancing would likely not be observed.
“Hopewell Chin’ono will spend the weekend in jail after the High Court postponed the bail appeal hearing to Monday while Transform Zimbabwe leader Ngarivhume will (also) have to spend more time in jail after the hearing of his bail appeal was postponed to Monday to allow the state to file a response to his bail application,” the duo’s legal representatives, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, tweeted.
“In court, Hopewell’s lawyers insisted that the bail appeal hearing be heard on Friday as his liberty is fundamental but the state argued that it be postponed to Monday as it undertakes to file its response by close of business on Friday.”
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume are said to have allegedly used social media to incite the public to engage in street protests on July 31.