HARARE magistrate, Francis Mapfumo, on Thursday granted bail to 14 men including three university students arrested for interfering with a clean up exercise underway in the capital.
The 14 are Moreblessing Shumba, 23, Godwill Musiiwa, 21, Tonderai Gotora, 24, Tawanda Musambasi, 26, Terrence Chikorwa ,24, Leo Mutemwa,35, Tsungirirayi Tanhara,24,Emmanuel Manyondo, 19, Tinashe Mutepairi, 29, Benson Mashingaidze,Kalonji Nkanka, 25, Mike Chitombo,27, Daniel Chaurura,24, and Justice Siwela, 41.
Prosecutors claimed they were vending illegally.
They were arrested last Saturday for allegedly stoning municipal police and breaching the clean-up exercise popularly known as operation Guta ngarichene.
In his ruling, Mapfumo said it did not make sense how students and some people in the group who were employed became involved in this matter, adding that a drag net was used to arrest the accused.
He echoed defence lawyer, Kudzai Kadzere’s sentiments that the state had a weak case against his clients as it did not show how the crime was committed.
“Seriousness of an offence on its own is not sufficient to deny the accused bail,” said the magistrate.
“In its submissions the state argued that it feared the accused would reoffend if released on bail but the court found it comical how workers, students got to be labelled vendors.
“We concluded that a drag net was used in arresting the accused.”
Mapfumo then ordered the 14 to pay $50 bail, continue residing at given addresses, not to interfere with state witnesses and to also surrender passports to the state.
Despite the magistrate’s ruling, prosecutor Sharon Mashavira invoked section 121 which allows the state to contest bail ruling.
She however withdrew her submissions later without giving reasons.
The case was remanded to August 20.