Convict Japajapa to apply for bail at High Court

 Convict Japajapa to apply for bail at High Court
Published: 22 July 2019 (153 Views)
OPPOSITION activist Paddington Japajapa arrested on charges of inciting public violence during general elections is expected to apply for bail at a High Court hearing.

Prosecutor Sabastian Mutizirwa alleged that Japajapa addressed a presser that incited MDC Alliance youths to protest against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)'s declaration of "false" presidential results.   

Japajapa reportedly addressed the press after his MDC party rejected the results of the country's presidential election minutes before President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner.  

"Zec must do the right thing by announcing the proper results. Failure to do this, as leader of a civic organisation, I am going to call for chaos in the country," Japajapa reportedly told the news conference.

He was subsequently apprehended for the offence.

Japajapa was one of the witnesses who testified before the Commission of Inquiry into the politically-motivated violence which rocked central Harare on August 1 and threw the military under the proverbial bus by linking it to the deaths of at least six unarmed civilians on the fateful day.

Japajapa denies accusations that his press briefing incited people to violence.

He is in detention at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare. The MDC has said the court verdict against Japajapa represents a

"vicious assault on alternative voices", calling on all citizens to unite against these "blatant abuses and human rights violations."

MDC secretary-general Chalton Hwende said they will be making a bail application following a discussion with Japajapa's family member.

"The party, together with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) are working hard to ensure that a bail application pending an appeal by Japajapa is filed with the High Court.
"His family visited my office and we are working flat out to ensure that this situation is legally resolved soon," Hwende said.

MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele said Justice and Legal Affairs secretary in the party Innocent Gonese was handling the case. However, Gonese was not immediately available to give the exact date when the application will be filed.

Japajapa, who was accredited as an election observer during the hotly-disputed July 30 polls, laid the blame squarely on the military.

On the fateful day, Japajapa said he heard gunshots coming from the direction of Fourth Street while seated in his parked vehicle in central Harare.

Within a few minutes, he saw an army truck full of soldiers cruising towards the MDC headquarters along Nelson Mandela Street.

He said four soldiers jumped from the truck — a few metres from the MDC head office — and three of them started firing randomly using AK 47 automatic weapons.

"I started my vehicle, which was clearly branded ‘election observer' and I was in my election observer kit ... so I followed the army (truck) which was about 50 metres away and soldiers were shooting at people who were walking in the streets and one of the soldiers was kneeling, pointing his gun which was at 180 degrees, at that point he will be pointing at the waist or above the waist.

"One of the officers was commanding them to continue shooting and there was one police officer who was in riot gear who was also in front.

"When we were near the intersection of Nelson Mandela and Angwa Street, there was a body lying in a pool of blood, he had been shot, the army just passed by and did not bother to look at the person who had been shot," said Japajapa.

In graphic detail, he said he saw three bodies "with another man with intestines hanging from his body crawling along the pavements".

"He was crying for help, and no one assisted him," said Japajapa.

He narrated seeing soldiers who were brandishing firearms combing the streets of Harare when death hung in the air and saw another man who had been shot dead at Copacabana Bus Terminus.

"When I was about to take pictures, one of the soldiers said to me if you do that we will also shoot at you and I switched off my phone," he said.

All in all, he said he saw five bodies, including a dreadlocked man who had been shot by a police officer manning the Zanu-PF provincial headquarters.

During the demonstrations, protesters stormed the Zanu-PF headquarters, before tearing President Emmerson Mnangagwa's posters and targeting vehicles belonging to the ruling party.
Japajapa said despite the intimidating atmosphere, he continued going around town in the unease sanctuary of his vehicle which was marked "Elections Observer".

"There was no reason for me to be afraid. Soldiers were all over beating people, anybody whom they came across, with sjamboks and sticks, this was one of the worst barbaric acts I have ever seen in my life which was perpetrated by members of the army, it was ungodly and it is very cruel for them to say they never killed anybody.

They killed people, all in all they killed six people," said Japapaja.
After witnessing the gory sights of death and what resembled a war zone, Japajapa claimed that he went to the Elections Command Centre and tried to locate the chairperson of the then Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Priscilla Chigumba to inform her of what had happened.

Instead of meeting Chigumba, Japajapa was told to go and report the shootings he had witnessed to the police.

"By then I couldn't go back to town because the situation was volatile. I stayed at the command centre," he said.

When it was pointed to him that the army has a constitutional right to intervene when the situation demands, Japajapa said the army has no role in civilian matters and should have left those matters to be dealt with by the police who could have used tear smoke and water cannons to disperse the crowds.

"The intention was to kill, that is why they deployed the soldiers," he said.

When he was put under cross-examination, Japajapa said Zanu-PF has a history of violence from as far as the 1980s when the government turned on alleged Zapu officials in the Matabeleland region, killing an estimated 20 000 people.

Japajapa also highlighted the beating of former MDC leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, in 2007 and other incidences of State-sponsored violence.

- dailynews

Tags: Japajapa,

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