JUST IN: Human rights defenders charged with plotting to overthrow Mnangagwa

FIVE human rights campaigners, who were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) this week, were on Tuesday charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

First to be arrested on Monday upon disembarking from a South African Airways aircraft at Robert Mugabe International Airport, were four human rights campaigners namely George Makoni aged 38 years, Tatenda Mombeyarara aged 37 years, Gamuchirai Mukura aged 31 years, Nyasha Mpahlo aged 35 years while Farirai Gumbonzvanda aged 26 years, were arrested on Tuesday at Robert Mugabe International Airport.

The five were charged with subverting constitutional government as defined in section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

According to ZRP officers, Makoni, an Advocacy Officer with Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, Mombeyerara of International Socialist Organisation, Mukura of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development, Mpahlo of Green Governance Zimbabwe and  Gumbonzvanda, a volunteer at Rosaria Memorial Trust, allegedly connived with their accomplices, who are still at large and travelled to Maldives on May 13 , where they attended a training workshop organised by Centre for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian non-governmental organisation, with the intention of subverting a constitutionally elected government.

ZRP officers claimed that during the training workshop, the five human rights campaigners, who are represented by Godfrey Mupanga, Jeremiah Bamu and Jessie Majome of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were trained on how to mobilise citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience and or resistance to any law during some anticipated national protests organised by some anti-government movements.

The law enforcements agents charged that Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura, Mpahlo and Gumbonzvanda were also trained on how to operate small arms and to evade arrest during civil unrest and on counter-intelligence and acts of terrorism.

The ZRP officers confiscated the human rights activists’ laptops and mobile phone handsets, which they reportedly handed over to the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe “for extraction of evidence”, which will be produced in court as evidence against them including some notes recorded during the meeting.