Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter
THE High Court has granted $50 bail pending trial to six more people who allegedly participated in violent protests in Beitbridge. The group is alleged to be part of a mob which was arrested on public violence charges while protesting against the implementation of statutory instrument No 64 of 2016 which removes listed products from the Open General Import Licence.
The protestors were allegedly involved in looting and vandalism. They are accused of setting on fire a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) warehouse and vehicles worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Delight Masuka, Norah Dhliwayo, Joyce Mhlanga, Ryan Nyoni and Givemore Mupfeka, all from Dulivhadzimu suburb in the border town, as well as Austin Takudzwa Nyakupinda of Harare, were granted bail by Justice Nicholas Mathonsi.
As part of the bail conditions, they were ordered to reside at their given addresses and to report once every week at any nearest police station as well as not to interfere with state witnesses.
Beitbridge provincial resident magistrate, Miss Gloria Takundwa, had earlier dismissed their bail application, arguing that if released, the gang was likely to disturb public peace considering the situation in the country.
The magistrate also ruled that due to the seriousness of the offence, there was no guarantee that if given bail, the accused persons would not abscond.
She also ruled that the suspects were likely to interfere with state witnesses since investigations were yet to be completed.
The accused persons through their lawyer, Mr Patrick Tererai of Tererai Legal Practice, said the magistrate was misdirected when she denied them bail, arguing that there was no basis for the allegations.
“It is insufficient to make unsubstantiated allegations that the accused persons would tamper with evidence or improperly influence witnesses when the risk of interference had not been established in this case,” said Mr Tererai.
“The lawyer said his clients had a strong defence, making them proper candidates for bail. Mr Thompson Hove, for the state, did not oppose the bail application.
The court heard that on July 1, the suspects, who include cross-border traders, vendors and ordinary people, gathered at Beitbridge border post main entrance and staged a demonstration against implementation of the statutory instrument 64 of 2016.
After they were dispersed by police, the protestors became violent and started marching in groups vandalising property and infrastructure in the border town.
The court heard that they went to a shop at Mashakada Business Centre and looted a bag containing clothes, groceries and electrical goods.
They also allegedly barricaded roads in Dulibadzimu suburb with stones and burning tyres.
The accused allegedly vandalised traffic lights and looted impounded goods which were kept at a Zimra warehouse before torching the building.
They were arrested and found in possession of some of the looted property.
Last Tuesday, Justice Maxwell Takuva granted bail to the first group of 17 suspects linked to the violent protests on the same conditions.