LAWYERS have raised fears over Hopewell Chin’ono’s safety under police custody after an unidentified woman reportedly visited the journalist in police cells to profile him.
Chin’ono appeared before Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna Wednesday facing a charge of inciting public violence.
Prosecutors opposed bail claiming the fearless scribe was difficult to arrest.
When Chin’ono appeared at the Harare magistrate’s court, his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa raised complaints the top journalist was not informed of his charge upon arrest as per procedure.
Mtetwa was also up in arms with the police for breaking a French door after storming Chin’ono’s Chisipite house in Harare to arrest him on Monday.
“We complain that the whole process constituted unlawful detention of the accused.
“We also want it placed on record that since they have his phone, they should not tamper with its contents or delete its social media content,” said Mtetwa.
The court also heard an unidentified woman went to Chin’ono’s cell at Harare Central police and profiled him without the knowledge of the investigating team.
Mtetwa said this posed as a danger to her client’s safety because this showed there was another force which could easily access the police cell.
“The woman went to the cells around 4 am and profiled the accused indicating that she was part of the investigating team. Upon asking, the CID said they were not aware who the person is.
“Clearly there is a parallel structure that does not respect the law and Constitutional provisions,” she said.
The magistrate ordered the state to investigate the allegations withiñ three days.
Prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi challenged bail saying Chin’ono was difficult to arrest.
He said Chin’ono ordered his worker to block the police from entering his home.
Mabhaudhi said, “There is a likelihood for him to abscond. This assertion is derived from the fact that when he was arrested, the police, upon arrival at his place of residence, he had already given instruction to an occupant at his house that he should tell the police that he was not in attendance.”
The prosecutor said Chin’ono knew the police were coming and that was why he was ready to electronically capture their arrival.
He said the journalist had already alerted the whole world that police were at his home.
Mabhaudhi also told the court that Chin’ono had contacts outside the country who could easily facilitate his escape from the country.
“He once said it in an interview that he helped Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa who allegedly approached him seeking help with outside contacts. This evidence is admissible,” said the prosecutor.
Mabhaudhi said Chin’ono incited the public to commit violence in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic showing he has no regard for human life.
Bail hearing continues the next day on Thursday.-New Zimbabwe