Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna says that journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is likely to continue posting statements on social media that have the effect of instigating public violence if freed on bail.
Chin’ono, who was being represented by lawyer Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, was denied bail on Friday and is expected back in court on August 7 for routine remand.
He is being charged with incitement to commit public violence or alternatively incitement to participate in a gathering with the intent to promote public violence.
In his ruling, Mr Nduna refused to attend to the interpretation of Chin’ono’s tweets saying that they would be dealt with during trial, but the State presently fears that he was likely to re-offend once released on bail.
Through his lawyer, Chin’ono had argued that there was no reference to violence in his tweets.
Chin’ono’s case arose after he allegedly posted messages through his Twitter handle between March 1 and July 20, calling for mass demonstrations by any means against Government on July 31.
Getting into a waiting prison vehicle Friday, Chin’ono had this to say to waiting reporters.
“We are being persecuted for talking about corruption and we won’t be bowed. (Coco: “And your spirits?”) I am fine,” said Chin’ono.
In Geneva Friday, UNHCR spokesperson Liz Throssell in a statement said that Zimbabweans have a right to protest corruption or anything else.
“Merely calling for a peaceful protest or participating in a peaceful protest are an exercise of recognized human rights,” said Throssell. “We are also concerned at reports of police using force to disperse and arrest nurses and health workers for infringing lockdown restrictions as they were trying to protest for better salaries and conditions of work… While recognizing the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic, it is important to remind the authorities that any lockdown measures and restrictions should be necessary, proportionate and time-limited, and enforced humanely without resorting to unnecessary or excessive force.”
Another activist, Jacob Ngarivhume was also denied bail on similar charges and is expected back in court on August 6.