By Kumbirai Mafunda
High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Wednesday 5 May 2021 ended the two-month detention of Harare West constituency legislator Hon. Joana Mamombe and opposition MDC-Alliance party youth leader Cecilia Chimbiri by granting them RTGS$20 000 bail.
Hon. Mamombe and Chimbiri had spent 61 days detained at Chikurubi Maximum Prison after several of their freedom bids were dismissed by judicial officers at Harare Magistrates Court and at Harare High Court.
On Wednesday 5 May 2021, Justice Chitapi, who presided over the duo’s bail appeal, set aside Harare Magistrate Denis Mangosi’s ruling of 13 April 2021 denying them bail after they cited changed circumstances as a basis for seeking to be set free.
In denying Hon. Mamombe and Chimbiri bail, Magistrate Mangosi had ruled that the duo has a propensity to continue committing similar offenses hence setting them free would undermine the bail system and the compromise administration of justice.
However, Justice Chitapi on Wednesday 5 May 2021 ruled that Hon. Mamombe and Chimbirii’s undertaking not to re-offend contained in their bail appeal was genuine and ordered them to pay RTGS$20 000 each, to report once a week at Harare Central Police Station, to continue residing at their given residential addresses and not to interfere with state witnesses until their trial is finalised.
Justice Chitapi also ordered the duo not to address a gathering of more than 50 people.
Hon. Mamombe and Chimbiri, who were represented by Alec Muchadehama of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were arrested on 5 March 2021 and charged with convening and partaking in a prohibited gathering in contravention of section 5(3)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention,
Consolidation and Amendment Order of Statutory Instrument 200/2020 as read with Statutory Instrument 42/2021.
Prosecutors claimed that Hon. Mamombe and Chimbiri allegedly read a statement entitled; “Statement in Solidarity with Makomborero Haruzivishe and Condemnation of Police Brutality in Zimbabwe” in which she stated that police officers “are among the top perpetrators of human rights abuses.