By Andrew Murenha
JOURNALIST and government critic Hopewell Chin’ono was this Friday afternoon freed on bail after being arrested on charges of obstructing justice, ending the seventeen days of his second stint at the country’s most notorious prison.
Chin’ono’s arrest and that of dozens of activists in the last four months has led to accusations that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was persecuting opponents, a charge the authorities deny.
Chin’ono, who has criticised the government on social media, was first arrested in July on charges of inciting violent anti-government protests.
He denies the separate charges and says the government is persecuting him for exposing corruption.
High Court Judge Tawanda Chitapi found on Friday that a lower court had erred in denying Chin’ono bail, but said the journalist should not use his Twitter account to post messages that obstructed justice.
His lawyer, Doug Coltart, told the Zimbabwe Voice that Chin’ono was expected to be released from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison this Friday evening.
“What is next is that we are now going to secure a warrant of liberation for Hopewell Chin’ono to facilitate his release from Chikurubi Maximum Prison today.
“We want him put of that prison by this evening latest,” said Coltart, in the company of another human rights lawyer Gift Mtisi.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said as a fresh bail condition to the already existing ones to which Hopewell was admitted on bail on charges of incitement to commit violence, Justice Chitapi ordered the freelance journalist not to use his Twitter handle @daddyhope to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
Justice Chitapi said it was wrong for Harare Magistrate Gofa to rule that Hopewell had a propensity to commit offences. – Zimbabwe Voice ■