Zimbabwe Arrests, Imprisons three Opposition Women for Allegedly Stage-Managing their own Abductions
Zimbabwe’s three female victims of abduction and abuse have spent the weekend in prison custody, after they were once again arrested Friday and charged with allegedly 'falsifying" the abductions.
The arrest and remand of the trio occurred just two days after the United Nations called for the immediate release of the young women and instructed Harare to stop state sanctioned abductions and torture.
The opposition members for the Movement for Democratic Change -Alliance (MDC-A) Cecilia Chimbiri aged 31, Joana Mamombe (27) and Netsai Marova (25) were hauled before the courts on Friday but Harare Magistrate Bianca Makwande said she will hand down her ruling on their bail application on Monday June 15.
The Embattled Young Women Walk into the Court Premises still Looking Sick
They were picked up by police and charged with myriad charges including
publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The ladies were also charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
During their brief appearance in court, Prosecutor Charles Muchemwa told Magistrate Makwande that Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova stage-managed their abduction and told falsehoods to their lawyers, relatives, and friends that they had been abducted on May 13, 2020.
Muchemwa said the false statements by the MDC-Alliance youth leaders
attracted some adverse comments from local and international organizations including from some heads of mission at some foreign embassies and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs, who condemned the abduction and torture, thereby tarnishing the image of the country and affecting its prospects of economic recovery.
However, responding to the allegations by Muchemwa, Alec Muchadehama and
Jeremiah Bamu, Counsels from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
representing the trio told Mrs. Makwande that their clients were being victimized for seeking justice over their abduction, torture, and sexual molestation and that the arrest and prosecution of the trio was an attempt by Zimbabwean authorities to cover up the egregious acts. They argued that their clients, victims of abduction and enforced disappearance and torture had been turned into villains.
State Prosecutor Muchemwa insisted that the three be denied bail and detained in prison because they were a flight risk and would be assisted by some foreign embassies.
Magistrate Makwande adjourned the matter to Monday June 15, leaving the young women to spend the weekend in detention.
The Young Women Assisting each other to Board the Prison Van
Representative Mamombe and the other two young ladies went missing on May 13 in what was reported an abduction in Harare. The abduction occurred shortly after the three participated in street protests in Zimbabwe’s capital against hunger during the national lockdown. They were found on May 15 visibly tortured, abused and dumped in Bindura, in the outskirts of Harare.
Prior to Friday’s arrest, the women youth leaders had been charged following another arrest on May 26, with committing public violence while participating in the anti-government demonstration against hunger during the national lockdown and will stand trial in August.
The government has not issued any official statement on the imprisonment of the three opposition figures, an act that is facing sustained condemnation from rights organization across the world.