By Kumbirai Mafunda
Lawyers representing freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono were on Thursday 12 November 2020 working on filing an appeal at the High Court against Harare Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa’sdecision to deny him bail.
Magistrate Gofa dismissed Chin’ono’s application for bail and ruled that the award-winning film-maker had a propensity to commit offences and hence should be kept detained in prison.
Magistrate Gofa’s decision came after Chin’ono’s lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Gift Mtisi and Doug Coltart of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights asked her to release the journalist from prison on bail as he would be ready to stand trial on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors alleged that Chin’ono posted a message on his Twitter account intending to prejudice the matter in which Zimbabwe Miners Federation leader Henrietta Rushwaya is currently appearing at Harare Magistrates Court on charges of smuggling gold out of Zimbabwe.
Chin’ono, prosecutors charged, created some communication lines with some unnamed National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officers and got confidential prosecutorial deliberations which he published on Twitter on 25 October 2020 to the effect that Rushwaya was going to be granted bail without any opposition by NPA officers.
By claiming to be engaged in a relationship with the NPA, prosecutors said the freelance had jeopardised the integrity of the case against himself and that of Rushwaya. Chin’ono returns to court on 26 November 2020.
Apart from the case of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, Chin’ono will stand trial from 7 to 9 December 2020 before Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna on charges of inciting people to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration during some anti-government protests called for in July.