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Man Detained Over 2019 January Protests Finally Freed

20 October 2020

The High Court on Monday reversed a three-year jail sentence imposed on a pro-democracy activist who was arrested during fuel price riots in January 2019.

The activist, Tonderai Masanga of Southlea Park, Harare, was arrested together with 13 others and accused of committing public violence.

A Mbare Magistrate sentenced him to 36 months in prison but he appealed against the ruling leading to his subsequent acquittal by Justices Benjamin Chikowere and Phildah Muzofa this Monday.

Masanga had, however, already spent 22 months in prison. His lawyer Tinashe Chinopfukutwa said:

The judges set aside Masanga’s conviction and found him not guilty and acquitted him.

During the protests triggered by an over 150 percent increase in the price of fuel decreed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, scores of people were arrested, killed, and or assaulted by state security forces who were deployed into homes.

Human rights groups documented nearly two dozen killings by the military and police, while over 75 people were treated for gunshot wounds.

Commenting on the exoneration of the activist, MDC Alliance national spokesperson, advocate Fadzayi Mahere said the right to protest is dead in Zimbabwe. She added:

Any demonstration is quashed by the police then a frivolous, political trial follows only for the protesters to be acquitted of the charges. Any pretence that we are a constitutional democracy has been eroded. Shameful.

Last year, a series of MDC protests were blocked by police arguing that there was concrete evidence to suggest the demonstrations were to degenerate into chaos.

More: ZimLive; Fadzayi Mahere

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