The following statement from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights further details the case against Munyaradzi Gwisai and the 44 co-accused:
Police on Wednesday 23 February 2011 charged International Socialist Organisation (ISO) coordinator Munyaradzi Gwisai and 44 social justice and human rights activists with treason.
Prosecutors sneaked in the charge of treason as defined in Section 20 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23] or alternatively contravening Section 22 (2) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, that is attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means. Lawyers for the 45 were only advised of the charges minutes before the court convened.
If found guilty of treason, the activists risk being slapped with a sentence of death or life imprisonment.
State prosecutor Edwin Nyazamba, who was assisted by one Mthombeni accused the activists of convening and attending a meeting in a boardroom at Cross Roads House along Julius Nyerere Way in Harare on Saturday 19 February 2011, where they allegedly organized, strategised to implement the removal of a constitutional government of Zimbabwe by unconstitutional means, in similar fashion to the Egyptian revolution, which resulted in the ousting of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
The activists allegedly viewed video footage of the Egyptian protests and made speeches urging other activists in attendance to mobilise a revolt against the government in similar fashion to the protests which were recently staged in Egypt and Tunisia.
Prosecutors said the police who raided and arrested the activists confiscated a video projector, a laptop, and two DVD’s containing the Egyptian and Tunisian revolt recordings.
The State alleged that the police recovered placards with inscriptions which read “Choice is now socialism ISO” and “Marxism in the millennium MDC ndizvo”.
Defence lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Marufu Mandevere of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) protested against being ambushed in court as prosecutors only availed the charge sheet to them a few minutes before court proceedings.
Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi adjourned proceedings to Thursday 24 February 2011 to allow the defence lawyers to obtain instructions from the activists as they had not been afforded the opportunity to do so with regards to the new charge of treason which only cropped up when they were in court.
However, the principal prison officer, in contempt of the court, barred defence lawyers from taking instructions from their clients and transferred the activists to Harare Remand Prison and Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
The 45 activists are Munyaradzi Gwisai, Antonater Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Michael Sozinyu, Eddson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto, Phillip Magaya, Prolific Mataruse, Godknows Biya, David Mupatse, Douglas Muzanenhamo, Ganizani Nunu, Reki Jimu, Josphat Chinembiri, Strutton Muhambi, Trevor Chamba, Clarence Mugari, Munyaradzi Maregedze, Willie Hlatswayo, Ian Muteto, Tinashe Muzambi, Tinashe Mutazu, Pride Mukono, Lenard Kamwendo, Tinashe Chisaira, Trust Munyama, Peter Garanewako, Elizabeth Makume, Megline Malunga, Daison Bango, Malvern Hobwana, Tashinga Mudzengi, Ednar Chabalika, Thokozile Mathe, Francisca Thompson, Masline Zvomuya, Nhamo Kute, Annie Chipeta, Tabeth Chideya, Charles Mubwandarikwa, Thomas Chibaya, Fatima Manhando, Blessing Muguzayaya and Robert Muhlaba.