Harare court denies bail for Timba and Avondale 78, amid heavy police presence


HARARE – In a tense session marked by heavy police presence, the Harare Magistrates Court has denied bail for Jameson Timba and 77 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists, collectively known as the Avondale 78. 

The bail ruling was marked by heavy police presence, who unleashed violence on CCC supporters, harassing journalists as well. 

The group, languishing in pretrial incarceration since June 16 for allegedly holding an unauthorized meeting, will remain in custody until July 10, 2024, following threats of protests.

Magistrate Ruth Moyo, presiding over a virtual hearing, dismissed the bail applications, citing concerns that the accused might abscond and interfere with witnesses. 

She pointed to the potential for a custodial sentence and noted the violence exhibited during their arrest, emphasizing the need to uphold the "rule of law in our democracy."

"Releasing the accused on bail would undermine or jeopardize the criminal justice system," Moyo stated. 

"There is also a likelihood that their release would disturb public order or undermine peace and security."

The hearing, initially postponed due to the state's delayed submissions, saw unprecedented security measures. 

Agency Gumbo, CCC Hatcliffe Member of Parliament and lawyer, commented on the heavy police presence, saying, "We were surprised to see such a heavy presence of police."

The activists face charges of promoting violence, breaches of peace, and disorderly conduct stemming from a June 16 assembly at Timba's residence in Harare. 

CCC supporters loyal to Nelson Chamisa demonstrated outside the court in solidarity, with one woman, Mai Hondongwa, detained for holding a "Free Timba" placard. 

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe identified her as the wife of Teacher Hondongwa, a disabled activist struggling in prison without her assistance.

Journalists who were covering the chaotic scenes were also harassed by armed riot police. 

The CCC has vowed to continue fighting for the release of Timba and the other activists, maintaining that their detention is politically motivated.

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