Home » Judicial » Freedom for 25 Chingwizi Villagers

A Chiredzi magistrate Monday set free 25 Chingwizi villagers arrested a few months ago following violent skirmishes that led to the torching of two police vans in the South-East Lowveld.

Violence broke out as government attempted to relocate the flood victims from the Chingwizi transit camp to a designated area.

Over 300 villagers were arrested following the outbreak of violence. According to reports then, the military was called in to quell the skirmishes which left some people injured.

Following a parade in Chiredzi, 29 people were left to face trial and were granted $30 bail each in August but magistrate Honest Musiiwa found no case against 25 of them.

Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have fought for months on end to secure freedom for the 29 who included an 84 year old man and a suckling mother who, at one stage, was imprisoned with her two year old baby.

The defence argued that all the accused could not be linked to the alleged public violence as they were of poor health and were either in their tents or out of Chingwizi transit camp when the alleged offence was committed. According to the lawyers, the villagers were protesting against the relocation of medical facilities from Chingwizi transit camp to Nuanetsi Ranch.

Lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu confirmed the legal victory adding theirs was a ‘partial’ legal relief because at least four of the villagers were yet to be freed with one of them having been denied bail and has been languishing in prison for the past four months.

Following reported flooding at Tokwe-Mukosi dam early this year, government moved over 20 000 vulnerable villagers constituting at least 3000 families to Chingwizi camp promising them compensation.

Since then villagers have been demanding compensation amid reports of human rights violations in the camp.

Source : New Zimbabwe