The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has issued a statement announcing that the hearing of detained freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s bail appeal has been postponed to Wednesday 18 November 2020. The hearing was set for Tuesday 17 November 2020 but Justice Chitapi said he was overwhelmed with other cases. Below is the statement by the ZLHR.
17 November 2020
FALSE START TO HEARING OF CHIN’ONO’S BAIL APPEAL
HIGH Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Tuesday 17 November 2020 postponed hearing of detained freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s bail appeal to Wednesday 18 November 2020 to allow himself ample time to go through the anti-corruption campaigner’s request to be set free.
While hearing of Chin’ono’s bail appeal had been set for Tuesday 17 November 2020, Justice Chitapi said he was overwhelmed with other cases and hence postponed the determination of the freelance journalist’s freedom bid to Wednesday 18 November 2020 at 9:AM.
Chin’ono was arrested on 3 November 2020 and charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The anti-corruption campaigner petitioned the High Court seeking an order to be released on bail after Harare Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa dismissed his bail application on Thursday 12 November 2020 alleging that the freelance journalist had a propensity to commit offences and should remain incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison to stop him from contravening the country’s laws.
Through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Gift Mtisi and Doug Coltart of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Chin’ono argues that he should be released from prison on the same conditions as those imposed on his previous case, where he was charged with inciting people to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration during some anti-government protests in July.
The freelance journalist argues that Magistrate Gofa erred and misdirected herself when she denied him bail on Thursday 12 November 2020.
At Harare Magistrates Court, prosecutors told Magistrate Gofa that the freelance journalist posted a message on his Twitter account intending to prejudice the matter in which Zimbabwe Miners Federation leader Henrietta Rushwaya was charged for allegedly smuggling gold out of Zimbabwe.
The State alleges that Chin’ono created some communication lines with some unnamed National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officers and got confidential prosecutorial deliberations which he allegedly published on Twitter on 25 October to the effect that Rushwaya was going to be granted bail without any opposition by NPA officials. By claiming to be engaged in a relationship with the NPA, prosecutors said the freelance journalist had jeopardised the integrity of the case against himself and that of Rushwaya.