Harare — THE Zimbabwean government has received a setback in its attempts to jail outspoken pastor, Evan Mawarire, after a court ordered his release.
Harare Magistrate, Elisha Singano, ruled the state failed to bring him to court within the 48 hours enshrined in the constitution.
The state thus violated the rights of His Generation Church leader, who has been critical of the government’s handling of the recurring economic hardships.
Some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers arrested the clergyman on Sunday and charged him with “subverting a constitutional government”.
This follows a video he allegedly circulated on social media on Saturday protesting against the country’s worsening economic crisis.
The state filed an application for his placement on remand on the fresh charges of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government but his lawyer Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights protested against the move by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), represented by Tapiwa Kusema.
Nkomo argued the state hadwillfully trampled upon the clergyman’s rights to bring him before a court not later than 48 hours after the arrest or the detention began as provided for under the constitution.
Kusema argued the state had faced some unspecified challenges in bringing Mawarire to court but Magistrate Singano ruled police officers had failed to comply with provisions of the constitution.
Meanwhile, the High Court will on Thursday hear a fresh charge of slapped on Mawarire for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mugabe’s government.
Courts have previously cleared Mawarire of similar charges following widespread anti-government protests in 2016.
He sought refuge overseas following the protests but was arrested upon his return in February this year.