Political activists Cecillia Chimbiri, Joanah Mamombe and Netsai Marova were arrested on 13 May 2020 at a police roadblock in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, for leading an anti-government protest over the authorities’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic and widespread hunger in the country.
The three women, all youth leaders in the opposition MDC-Alliance party, were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were asked to get into another vehicle under the pretext that they were being taken to another police station. According to the activists, they were hooded and driven to an unknown place where they were they were tortured, including through sexual violence
The three activists were found two days later abandoned 87km from Harare and had to be hospitalised. While in hospital they were charged with “publishing or communicating falsehood prejudicial to the state” and “gathering with intent to promote public violence” and are currently facing trial. No investigation has been initiated into their enforced disappearance and torture.
On 10 June 2020, the three were also arrested while at their lawyers’ offices. They were accused of lying about their torture and charged with “communicating or publishing false statement prejudicial to the state,” and “defeating or obstructing the course of justice.” They were denied bail and remanded in custody until 26 June, during which time they were denied access to food from their relatives.
On 26 June 2020, the High Court granted them bail under onerous conditions including reporting three times a week to the police and barring them from communicating about their matter directly or otherwise with any of the public and or private media, including social media. The three were rearrested again on 31 July 2020, before being released.
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