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Zimbabwe journalist Chin’ono bail hearing changed as lawyer demands his chains removed

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono (2nd L) stands with his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa (L) and Doug Coltart (R) while police search his office in Harare on July 21, 2020.
Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono (2nd L) stands with his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa (L) and Doug Coltart (R) while police search his office in Harare on July 21, 2020. AFP - JEKESAI NJIKIZANA
3 min

The bail hearing for Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was moved to Thursday after the prosecutor called for the press and public to be prevented from attending the court session.

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The court appearance began on a sour note on Wednesday as Chin’ono’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa called for the prison services to take leg irons off of her client while he is in court.

Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna upheld the state application to try Chin’ono in private tomorrow, even though his lawyer argued that his case is in the public interest.

Chin'ono will testify about the state of prison conditions, which the judge said would jeopardise prison security.

Chin’ono’s lawyer Mtetwa says that he is surviving on biscuits and water because prison authorities will not allow him to receive homemade food, but he was able to get a visit from his sister.

Chin’ono was arrested on 20 July, as well as opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume; both were charged with incitement to participate in public violence.

Ngarivhume, from the small Transform Zimbabwe party, had called for people to peacefully protest against the government on 31 August.

Ngarivhume’s lawyer Donso Nkomo spoke to the press outside the courthouse, explaining that the whole process is difficult, especially because the government is not adhering to the law.

“We have had to wait for one hour on all occasions we have sought to visit them. When we do visit them, we are given very limited time to meet,” said Nkomo to reporters. “The constitution provides for private consultation between a lawyer and his client. That has not been given to us in respect to Jacob and Hopewell,” he added.

The Zimbabwe journalist’s case has garnered a lot of media attention both in the country and internationally after he was arrested in his home after reporting that the then-health minister Obadiah Moyo had allegedly awarded a multi-million-dollar contract for Covid-19 supplies.

Moyo was later fired, but this report accentuated the ongoing alleged corruption within Zimbabwe.

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