Harare, Zimbabwe – An opposition activist from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 after spending over a week in detention at Harare Remand Prison. The activist, along with 25 others, had been arrested for allegedly participating in an unsanctioned gathering at the home of a party legislator in the Budiriro suburb.
According to Wilbert Advocate, the lawyer representing the activists, his client is now in isolation under prison detention. “One of the accused persons tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, and has been placed in isolation,” said Advocate. “We understand he will be in isolation for 10 days and will be unable to attend court.”
Advocate also expressed concern over the circumstances in which his client contracted the virus, stating, “The circumstances in which he got Covid-19 remain unclear at the moment, but we have urged both prison officials and the court to take necessary precautions as Covid-19 cases appear to be on the rise in the country.”
The 25 other CCC activists, including party legislators Amos Chibaya and Costa Machingauta, were further remanded in custody on Monday and will appear in court on Tuesday for continuation of their bail application and ruling. They have been charged with violating the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA).
According to the police, Machingauta had allegedly organized an unlawful meeting at his Budiriro home on January 16, which reportedly attracted 500 party supporters. The police also claim that the activists blocked the normal flow of traffic in streets linking to Machingauta’s home. However, the activists claim they were unlawfully raided by the police while in a private meeting at Machingauta’s residence.
Among those arrested were two senior citizens and a minor aged 17, who was released from custody upon her first court appearance. The bail hearing is ongoing, as prosecutors stated they intend to call one more witness.
This is a developing story and more information will be provided as it becomes available.