Budiriro raid — Police present contradicting court narratives
POLICE spokesperson Paul Nyathi has contradicted investigating and arresting officers’ narrative on the number of people who attended the Citizens’ Coalition for Change meeting in Budiriro earlier this month.
Nyathi says 500 people attended the meeting at a house belonging to Budiriro legislator Costa Machingauta, yet the arresting officer Ignatius Magejo and investigating officer George Garauzive told the court that the meeting was attended by between 50 to 70 people.
“It is a fact that the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC)’s Costa Machingauta convened an unsanctioned gathering at house number 9293 Mvumba Crescent, Budiriro 5A, Harare. The local Zimbabwe Republic Police station received information and reacted to the scene. Police Officers observed that nearly 500 supporters had gathered for the meeting clad in their party regalia. The supporters had blocked Mvumba Crescent, Dehwe Road, Magodo Road and Budiriro OK Rank,” said Nyathi.
This is contrary to statements given by arresting officer Magejo and investigating officer Garauzive who spoke under oath in court and said the gathering had about 50 to 70 people in attendants, 26 of which are in custody.
“The meeting was attended by about 50 to 70 people and some of them fled from the scene where they committed the offense,” said Garauzive as he was being cross-examined in the dock.
In addition to this, on orm 242 (charge sheet), the arresting officer says, value of property stolen or damaged is NIL meaning nothing was destroyed, but, Nyathi says a door was broken down and a phone was stolen.
“The police officers engaged Costa Machingauta to disperse the supporters. However, there was open resistance, with supporters chanting obscene and derogatory songs to the police officers. In the process the CCC youths went on to damage doors of a certain house as they resisted arrest and allegedly stole a cellphone. Twenty-four supporters were arrested. Costa Machingauta escaped arrest and later on handed himself to the police on 18th January 2023,” said Nyathi.
The arresting officer did not capture what Nyathi alleges.
On 14 January 2023, Citizens” Coalition for Change activists convened for a meeting in Budiriro and 25 were arrested with a short time of meeting.
These are Amos Chibaya, Wancelaus Nyamunokora, Taurai Mema, Rudolph Tsindi, Stabile Mlilo, Monica Mukwada, Misheck Nyembe, Nyemudzai Makwanya, Vimbai Dambaza, Chenesai Ndoro, Lilosa Nhanhanga, Ngoni Mafundikwa,Peace Mafundikwa, Faith Ngorima, Cleopatra Tapfuma, Lancelot Tungwarara, Peace Mafundikwa, Shyla Zvomoyo, George Makwangaidze, Wyclife Maramba, Rutsambo Siros, Takemore Masikasika, Aleta Virimai, Stanley Mangare and Dominic Chitahwe.
Accused number 26, Machingauta, handed himself over to the police three days after he heard his name as that of a fugitive in the initial appearance of the 25. This was three days after the meeting.
In the same statement, Nyathi says all the 500 attendants of the party were wearing party regalia, this was consolidated by the officers who spoke in court, but, when the accused appeared in court from the police station, only one person had a CCC T-shirt and helmet, Mukwada was wearing a yellow and black dress, Mlilo was wearing yellow shoes, Amos Chibaya was wearing a yellow cap and some had remnants of yellow on their clothes but it was not necessarily party regalia.
The Police Reaction Group (anti-riot police) went to Budiriro on the day after receiving a tip off of the meeting and three trucks went to disperse the meeting.
Magejo says they approached the residence and accused number 1, Amos Chibaya, and accused 26, Machingauta and the duo told them to leave the meeting because it was a private meeting.
“Accused 1 came to us asking why we had come to the meeting. He asked why we had brought guns to the meeting. Accused 26 said there was no need to come to the meeting,” said Magejo while being cross-examined in the witness box at court.
The 26 are currently held at Harare Remand Prison and Chikurubi Female Prison awaiting bail that will be handed down on Friday 27 January 2023.”
One of the accused persons contracted Covid-19 in the cells and has been in isolation.