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    Tuesday, 12 July 2016

    Police accused of destroying property in search of rioters


    — Police have been accused of  vandalising several properties when they hunted for leaders of violent protests that rocked Beitbridge last Friday following the introduction of a law barring imports of basic needs, among other things.
      According to evidence submitted in court this week armed police opened fired in a high density suburb and destroyed doors of a house in searchof a Hitherton Shoko, a crossborder transporter now accused of masterminding the riots.
      "They fired three shot outside the house then burst into my house breaking a sliding door and several windows," Shoko's wife Thandiwe Mavesera told a packed court on Tuesday.
     She was giving evidence during a bail application by her husband and 19 other accused people who are part of the 71 arrested after the riots.
      "They turned the house upside down but my husband was not there," she said under oath.
      When her husband returned from a business trip to Ngundu they went together to the police where he was arrested.
      Police were also accused of destroying Chocolate City Bar at Dulivhadzimo Bus Terminus when they went after suspects.
      The rioters had destroyed a police Base, burnt a Customs Warehouse, set alight more than eight cars, destroyed three sets of traffic lights in the protests that even forced the closure ofvthe border post for the first time in 97 years.
      Most of those arrested are small time food vendors and a handful of people including an ex-policeman Knowledge Vengesai who was interviewed by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news crew.
     Vengesai told the court that his crime, police said, was saying "the riots painted a bad image of Zimbabwe" during the interview.
     He was giving evidence during a long bail application before magistrate Gloria Takundwa.
     He questioned why he was the only one arrested for talking to newsmen when many other people gave interviews.
      All the accused are applying for bail and are represented by Dambudzo Machaya, Reason Mutimba and Lord Mudau instructed by Lawyers for Human Rights.
      "Many people were interviewed and I was part of them. We were interviewed as riots were progressing and if I was rioting how would they have interviewed me," he said.
      He said ZBC approached him and he had not asked them tobe interviewed and he made his comments as a citizen.
     and I commented as a citizen," he said adding even before his interview all roads were blocked and riots long started.
     The lawyers asked the court to grant bail to all accused people saying the possibility of them being convicted was remote since police had not seen them in action.
     Most of those arrested were picked a day after the riots that started on July 1, 2016.
      The lawyers, in separate addreses said the investigating officer detective assistant inspector Jabulani Ngwabi in his evidence to oppose bail opposition spoke on assumptions which were inadmissible in court.
     Ngwabi had earlier told the court he was not part of the police who arrested the suspected rioters and did not circumstances concerning individual arrests of the 20.
      Machaya, Mutimba and Mudau all said their clients were of fixed abode and had not been arrested on the scene of violence but either followed at their homes or workplaces.
      The three lawyers, separately addressing court, agreed on the seriousness of the offence but said that was not adequate at law to deny anyone bail.
      Ruling was expected to be made on Wednesday.
      Jabulani Mberesi prosecuted
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