Chin’ono prison nightmare continues after High Court rejects bail appeal

FREELANCE journalist Hopewell Chin’ono will remain behind bars after High Court Judge, Justice Chitapi rejected his bail appeal on Thursday.

Chin’ono’s lead lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told journalists outside the High Court that she was stunned and disappointed by the court’s decision to dismiss her client’s bail appeal.

Chino’no is facing charges of inciting people to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government through unconstitutional means after he was arrested on July 20 ahead of planned anti-government protests on July 31.

He denies the allegations.

“If bail is an entitlement and the policeman (who testified) considered that he arrested Hopewell on a completely wrong understanding of the law, I am naturally stunned by the court’s decision,” Mtetwa said.

Chin’no’s bail application which was initially dismissed at the Harare magistrates’ court last month has left the journalist’s lawyers frustrated.

His bail hearing at Harare magistrates’ court was postponed after the magistrate stated that the court staff had to close early so that they could beat the government imposed curfew time in what Mtetwa described as a breach of her client’s fundamental right of liberty.

“It makes a mockery of the need to come to court within 48 hours; it makes a mockery of the fact that bail hearings are an urgent matter,” said the human rights lawyer at initial bail hearing.

Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna went on to dismiss Chin’ono’s bail application remanding the filmmaker in custody to August 7.

Nduna cited that accused was a danger to the public and would violate the law if released, prompting his lawyers to appeal at the High Court.

Chin’ono’s bail appeal at the High Court went on to push off with a false start as the record of proceedings from magistrate’s court has not been brought to High Court in what his lawyers said was an employment of delaying tactics by the state.

Chin’ono spent the weekend of August 1 and 2 in jail after the High Court postponed his bail appeal hearing to Monday, August 3.

In court, Hopewell’s lawyers insisted that the bail appeal hearing be heard Friday, July 31, as his right liberty is fundamental.

However, the State argued that bail appeal be postponed to Monday as it undertakes to file its response by close of business on Friday.

Further postponements saw the matter being concluded on August 8 with the High Court Judge, Justice Chitapi rejecting Chin’ono’s bail appeal.

It is the State’s case that a Chin’ono, allegedly posted various messages on his Twitter account using the handle @daddyhope during the period between 1 March 2020 to 20 July 2020 calling upon Zimbabweans across the country to engage in acts of public violence against the government on 31 July 2020.

Prosecutors charged that by posting such messages Chin’ono intended to disturb the peace, security or order of the public.