BY ZENZELE NDEBELE
A staggering 620 people from Bulawayo have been arrested for various offences linked to the January 14 protests over steep fuel prices in one of the biggest crackdowns by the government in recent history.
According to police records gleaned by CITE, 445 people were in remand prison while 13 had been remanded out of custody in the city.
As of Friday, police had 11 people in custody, which insiders said showed that the crackdown was still in full swing.
The records showed that 62 people had been acquitted by Friday, a development legal experts said showed that either police had done a shoddy job during investigations or that most victims of the clampdown were innocent people.
Ten juveniles, including a 12 year-old boy accused of burning a pharmacy in Pumula, were arrested. Three have since been given suspended sentences for public violence.
Human rights group say about 1000 people had been arrested during the clampdown, which Bulawayo by far the most affected city.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment on why the city had such a high number of arrests compared to other parts of the country.
Some of the people whose cases were discharged at the close of the state’s case were Thamsanqa Moyo (31) who was charged with public violence and theft at Totobisa beer garden in Magwegwe West.
Twenty-year old Trevor Ndlovu was also freed after he was charged with the same offence due to lack of evidence.
A 15 year-old Bulawayo boy was also freed by the courts after a police officer disclosed that he had arrested him because he saw him sweating.
The police officer said he assumed the boy had been running with other protestors.
In another case, Magaret Ngwenya (68) from Njube was arrested after she was found in “possession” of a television stand, which the police claimed was stolen.
Ngwenya was released on free bail but failed to appear in court last week and a warrant of arrest has since been issued against her.
Police source said the old broken TV stand was found in the old woman’s garden and she denied accusations that she stole it during the protests.