HARARE – Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Godfrey Karembera, popularly known as Madzibaba VeShanduko, has denied allegations that he planned to deface Mbuya Nehanda’s statue in central Harare.
Karembera, who is facing charges of undermining the authority of the police, was not in court on Monday as his lawyer Doug Coltart challenged his placement on remand, arguing that he was unlawfully arrested and detained beyond the 48 hours mandated by law.
The activist remains in hospital, his lawyers say after he was tortured in police custody following his March 17 arrest in Harare.
Coltart said Karembera was arrested 300 meters from the Mbuya Nehanda statue. He also told magistrate Babra Mateko that the activist never signed a warned and cautioned statement. It was only handed to Coltart while in court on Monday.
“We tried to raise the issue at the hospital and you indicated that the hospital room was not an appropriate place for me to make the submissions. I was disallowed to make the application. The accused person is before you illegally, in light of torture and over-detention,” Coltart said.
Karembera was arrested at 8.30AM on a Thursday and a bedside court hearing held after 2PM on Saturday – past the 48 hours police are legally allowed to hold a suspect.
Coltart said taking all this into consideration, his client was unlawfully before the court.
The activist said police spokesman Paul Nyathi also told the world a lie about him trying to deface Mbuya Nehanda statue.
The allegation is, however, not included in the state outline.
“Nyathi is quoted as saying the accused person was arrested for attempting to deface Mbuya Nehanda’s statue. There was no allegation relating to that in the court papers and it is common cause that the accused was more than 300 meters away from the Mbuya Nehanda statue. Nyathi lied and we don’t know where he got that from,” said the lawyer.
Coltart said Nyathi created his own narrative after his officers abused his client.
Karembera is being accused of undermining the authority of the police by insulting them.
Coltart led evidence from the doctor Jonathan Fernandes who confirmed that the activist sustained serious injuries.
Coltart alleged that one Constable Manyeruke and others assaulted his client.
The hearing continues on Tuesday.
The complainant is Brilliant Thembelani Nyathi.
The prosecution charges that on March 17, at the intersection of Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela in Harare, Nyathi was on duty and on patrol with other police officers namely Constables Innocent Name, Majoni Douglas, Tafara Pasipanodya and Purity Meke when they met Karembera who was dressed in yellow and chanting slogans attracting a crowd to the annoyance of other people who alerted the police.
The police officers allegedly approached Karembera and advised him to stop what he was doing. It is alleged he ignored the police warning and he started shouting at the police officers saying “mapurisa makamama, makajaira kushandiswa nana Chiwenga, muri imbwa dzevanhu, munoita semunotambiriswa goridhe sei.”
The police officers allegedly then told Karembera that he was under arrest.
It is alleged that Karembera turned violent trying to resist the arrest but he was eventually subdued, handcuffed and taken to Harare Central Police Station.