Chin’ono in fresh freedom bid


Harare, (New Ziana) – Detained, journalist cum activist, Hopewell Chin’ono on Wednesday returned to the Harare Magistrates Court for a fresh bail application claiming changed circumstances.

Chin’ono and politician, Jacob Ngarivhume have been languishing in remand prison for nearly four weeks, since their arrest on charges of inciting public violence late last month.

The two, who are alleged to be some of the organisers of the failed July 31 demonstrations against government have since then tried to seek their freedom, but have so far been unsuccessful.

Attempts to have the High Court grant them bail also failed, forcing their lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to re-apply for bail on changed circumstances given that the date for the planned action passed, with the demonstrations considered a non-event.

The hearing for Chino’no’s new application began on Wednesday before Magistrate Ngoni Nduna following the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays while that for Ngarivhume has been pushed to Monday.

Lawyers representing the two, Beatrice Mtetwa and Moses Nkomo of the ZLHR, complained that prison officials were trampling on the rights of their clients by failing to give them adequate time and privacy during prison visits as well as proper food.

“The Constitution provides for private consultation between a lawyer and their client, and that has not been given to us in respect of Jacob and also in respect of Hopewell, so it’s been a very tough situation,” Nkomo told reporters.

He said they had since launched urgent applications with the High Court so that they can be granted privacy with their clients.

And with Chin’ono set to testify on prison conditions on Thursday, in what has become a mini trial within a trial, Magistrate Nduna barred the public and the media from attending the session at the request of the State.

The State, led by Whisper Mabhaudi requested that the evidence be heard in camera for security reasons, while Mtetwa argued that it was in the public interest for people to know about the obtaining conditions.

Nduna agreed with the state and ruled that the evidence be heard in camera as Chin’ono’s evidence might jeopardise prison security.

Mtetwa told the court Chin’ono was surviving on water and biscuits as prison officials were not allowing him access to home cooked food.

“He is being denied completely, food from outside, they say he must get dry food, so he has been living on biscuits and water,” she said.
The case continues on Thursday.
New Ziana

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