By A Correspondent| Four University of Zimbabwe students were remanded in custody on May 30, 2023, after they were arrested for protesting the continued incarceration of Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala.
The students, Emmanuel Sitima, Comfort Ncekuyenkosi Mpofu, Tawanda Benjamin Watadza, and Lionel Andrew Madamombe, were appearing before Harare magistrate Learnmore Mapiye facing a charge of defacing buildings in Harare by writing messages demanding Sikhala’s release.
They were being represented by human rights lawyer Darlington Marange.
Allegations are that on May 15, 2023, the quartet was among 30 youths who took part in a protest holding placards, some inscribed #FreeWiwa, #FreeJacob and #BlackMonday.
The State alleges that the youths were singing and denouncing the Zanu-PF government, accusing it of persecuting the opposition politician. They are accused of defacing the Parliament, High Court, Trinity Methodist Church and Constitutional Court buildings in central Harare.
The State prosecutor failed to show up in court, and the magistrate remanded the students in custody to June 1.
The students’ arrest has sparked outrage from human rights groups, who have accused the government of using repressive tactics to silence dissent.