More than a hundred Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights appeared at Harare’s Rotten Row Court on Wednesday to show support for Pastor Evan Mawarire-the anti-corruption activist running a campaign called #ThisFlag.
The lawyers supported Mawarire who faces charges of inciting violence and disturbing the peace after staging the country’s biggest shutdown protest, in over a decade, on July 6.
Mawarire handed himself over to police on Tuesday in the company of a lawyer after a request to question him. This was the day before more planned protests across Zimbabwe. Mawarire’s arrest has outraged many Zimbabweans.
“His only crime is calling on the government to arrest criminals. Even the support from lawyers today shows the level of injustice that the police have applied on Mawarire. It is also a stern message to the government that they won’t let government dehumanize people without an equal response from legal experts,” says Trust Matsilele, a Forbes Africa and CNBC Africa journalist, Trust Matsilele.
While court proceedings were underway, many Zimbabweans from the private sector stayed away from work in solidarity with the planned protest. Not all civil servants herded the call.
Matsilele says this is largely affected by the Public Service Commission taking down names of those who stayed away.
“Civil servants are scared of losing their jobs even though they aren’t getting paid much. Zimbabwean Intelligence is moving around the various government offices with the intention of intimidating people,” says Matsilele.
In an interview with CNBC Africa’s Open Exchange, Matsilele expressed his views on the police brutality in Zimbabwe that has been circulating in various social media platforms.
“Police are the ones committing extreme violence on citizens. I’m yet to see recorded violence where citizens are the ones committing violence towards the police,” says Matsilele.
Matsilele confirmed a few cases of retaliation where citizens were defending themselves against police brutality.
We contacted the director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Irene Petros, but she was inside the court with Mawarire and couldn’t speak.