Zimbabwe journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono was today denied bail at the High court. Hopewell was first denied bail by Justice Nduna at the Harare Magistrate Court on the 24th of July and this appeal was heard on the 29th of July and 6th of August by the High Court of Zimbabwe.

The judge noted that Beatrice Mtetwa directly attacked Justice Nduna in a letter that was filed with the court and with the Prosecutor General’s Office. He warned her to remain professional and not become one with her client and his case.

Judge – Justice Chitapi

Lawyers for Hopewell – Beatrice Mtetwa, Coltart and Mtisi

Lawyers for Zimbabwe government – E Makoto and W Mabhandi

Hopewell is facing three charges of incitement:

  1. Incitement to commit public  violence (s 187 (1) (a)
  2. Incitement to commit public violence (s 187 (1) (b)
  3. Incitement to incite participation in a public gathering with the intent to promote public violence, breach of peace and or bigotry

The reasons why he was denied bail were as follows:

  1. The Allegations on which Chin’ono was placed on remand were not challenged in front of the Magistrate. The High court judge therefore refused to hear any arguments regarding the reasons why Hopewell was put on remand. Justice Chitapi made the point that the remand and bail processes are related but distinct processes.
  2. There was no misdirection at law or fact or both
  3. Even if the high court judge had a different view, he could not substitute the Magistrate’s ruling because the matter in front of him was an appeal and not a substantive bail application.

Key Points 

  1. The lawyers can take the Justice Nduna’s Bail decision to the High Court on review
  2. The Lawyers can go back to the original magistrate or any other magistrate with any new matters that have arisen that could influence the bail decision
  3. The fact that the 31 July protests have came and gone was not before the High court judge. Anything that happened after the hearing and the appeal can not be considered.
  4. Hopewell Chin’ono’s tweets fell out of the protection of s59 of the constitution
  5. The Lawyers’s grounds of appeal were misplaced
  6. The High Court can not make the judgement that the arrest was unlawful
  7. Bail Applications are enquiries in which strict rules of evidence are not observed
  8. The practice of agreeing to a remand for convenience is wrong.
  9. Chin’ono did not offer to stop the tweets. His attitude was that of defiance to the state on the basis of a claim of a right.
  10. The Magistrate was correct to say that the tweets should be read together and not separately. The tweets were meant to promote a change of government that is not peaceful.