Zimbabwean journalist denied bail for third time

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, centre, was arrested on July 20. AFP/File/Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Chin’ono has lost the services of a top lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, after the magistrate accused her of denigrating the courts and ordered her to stop representing him.

Award-winning Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was Monday denied bail for the third time since his arrest last month on charges of inciting violence.

Chin’ono, 49, has been charged for his alleged role in promoting opposition-organised protests against corruption and the country’s ailing economy.

He had also helped expose a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies.

He was arrested at his house in Harare on July 20, and two previous bail applications were thrown out.

On Monday, magistrate Ngoni Nduna rejected Chin’ono’s third attempt at bail.

He said the journalist, a government critic, had sought the downfall of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

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“It will be wrong to say (the) 31 July (protest) was a non-event… there is a high likelihood that there will be nationwide demonstrations if the applicant is released,” Nduna said.

The protests were banned, and around 20 activists who held demonstrations in their neighbourhoods were arrested and have since been freed on bail.

Those arrested included top writer and Booker Prize nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga.

No trial date has been set yet, but Chin’ono was ordered back in court on September 1 for a routine remand court appearance.

The journalist has lost the services of a top lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, after the same magistrate accused her of denigrating the courts and ordered her to stop representing him.

The internationally-acclaimed lawyer has been at the forefront of defending human rights activists for many years.

The July 31 protests had been called by Jacob Ngarivhume, the head of a small party. He was also denied bail last week.

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