Mamombe, Chimbiri trial: Police tell court activists were never in custody

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Republic Police on Monday told a court that opposition lawmaker Joana Mamombe and activist Cecilia Chimbiri were never arrested on May 13, 2020, as their trial for allegedly faking an abduction continued.

Mamombe, Chimbiri and Netsai Marova – who has reportedly skipped the country – alleged that they were arrested at a police roadblock and then taken from a police station to be tortured.

They were found in Bindura on May 15, badly beaten. Their lawyers said they were also sexually abused after being thrown in a pit.

Police deny the activists were ever in their custody – doing so would leave them compelled to turn over names of the individuals who allegedly snatched the trio from Harare Central Police Station after blindfolding them.

The National Prosecuting Authority on Monday called investigating officer Venencia Muchenje, who testified that the three activists were never arrested at a police roadblock near the Harare Show Grounds. In fact, the activists were never in contact with the police on that day, he testified.

Muchenje maintained that the three activists fabricated the arrest and abduction to sully the government’s human rights record, which they deny.

Mamombe and Chimbiri’s trial on charges of publishing or communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state continues on April 12 when their lawyer Alec Muchadehama is expected to cross examine them.

Meanwhile, Mamombe and Chimbiri have failed in their application for refusal of further remand in a separate matter in which they are charged together with former ZINASU leaders Takudzwa Ngadziore and Tapiwanashe Chiriga.

The state alleges that they held a press conference outside the Harare Magistrates Court in violation of Covid-19 regulations on gatherings.

The quartet had challenged further remand, arguing that the prosecution was taking too long to bring them to trial.

Their application was thrown out by magistrate Ruth Moyo, who set May 2 as their trial date.

The prosecution made a commitment that if the trial fails to kick off on that date, the four will be removed from remand.

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