By Garikai Mafirakureva

MDC spokesperson for Chikombedzi district John Mazhata, who is facing charges of intimidating teachers during the January fuel protests, was further remanded to June 14 for ruling.

The trial ended in April with all the witnesses denying being intimidated by the opposition party activist.

Chiredzi magistrate Constance Mtandwa, however, reserved ruling to May 14, May 31, before it was again rolled over to June 14.

Mazhata, a farmer from Chikombedzi, who was charged with violating Section 45 of the Criminal Law (Codification and reform Act) [Chapter 9-23], handed himself to Law and Order officers at Chikombedzi Police Station on February 18, 2019, after several days in hiding.

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He is the only person in Chiredzi who has been arrested and arraigned before the courts to face charges relating to the January protests. Although Chiredzi residents participated in the stayaway, there were no reports of violence in the town. The protests were triggered by a 150% fuel price hike announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

According to Chiredzi area prosecutor, Moreblessing Rusere, on January 16, Mazhata made various phone calls to Amos Hlongwani, Chikombedzi Primary School headmaster, Jealousy Mupomba of Alpha High School and Ruzai Vhare of Zhou Primary School threatening them with unspecified action if they reported for duty during the mass protests.

The State alleges that Mazhata’s actions were unlawful and caused the teachers to live in fear. When questioned by the defence lawyer, Vhare, however, denied being intimidated by
Mazhata and so had no reason to report the accused to the police.

He said he was surprised to be summoned to court to testify against Mazhata.

Mazhata is denying all charges.