MDC-Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe and two activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were yesterday freed after the High Court granted them $10 000 bail each pending trial on charges of lying to the police and faking abduction.
The three were last week denied bail pending trial by Harare magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande on the grounds that they had the propensity to commit similar offences. They appealed to the High Court against the refusal of bail, citing several irregularities in the manner the (lower) court dealt with their application for bail.
Justice David Foroma allowed the appeal, saying the trio made out a proper case for the granting of their liberty on bail. He ruled that the decision of the magistrate refusing an appellant bail would be interfered with only if the magistrate committed an irregularity or misdirection in the exercise of his or her discretion.
In this case, the court found the magistrate had committed misdirections, which warranted interference from the higher court. “In the circumstances, the exercise of the (lower) court’s discretion denying appellants bail pending trial was properly impugned,” said Justice Foroma adding, “The appeal succeeds.”
The following are the provisos of the bail :
1.Each to pay $10,000.
2. Each to report to ZRP 3 x a week.
3. Each to hand in passports.
4. Each not to interfere with witnesses.
5. Each to reside at given addresses.
6. They're not permitted to communicate with media or use social media.
The three were accordingly granted $10 000 bail each coupled with stringent conditions.
As part of their bail, the trio is required to report three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at CID Law and Order, Harare Central police station between 6am and 6pm, until the matter is finalised. They were also ordered to reside at their given address until the matter is finalised and all their travel documents will remain in custody of the clerk of court at the Harare Magistrates Court.
Further, the trio was barred from interfering with State witnesses. Above all, pending the finalisation of the mater, none of the suspects is permitted to communicate whether directly or indirectly or otherwise with any section of the public and or private media, including the social media, in connection with the matter.
Arguing for the trio, defence lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama told Justice Foroma that the magistrate misdirected herself in denying his clients bail, treating them as guilty before trial.
He said the lower court failed to consider that the suspects had no bad criminal records to warrant the court to deny them bail. The magistrate, Mr Muchadehama said, relied on the State’s statement of a video evidence against the activists, which they failed to produce during the bail hearing.
The State represented by Mrs Wadzanai Badalane insisted that the magistrate was correct in her judgment as she analysed the facts that had been presented before her.