Zimbabwe has charged 68 people with public violence following violent clashes between protesters and the police last week and a magistrate’s court will rule today whether they should be released from custody while they await trial.
Police fired teargas and water cannon at opposition leaders and hundreds of demonstrators at Friday’s protest before unrest swept across large parts of the capital, Harare.
The 68, who include a freelance photographer, first appeared in court on Saturday.
Accused of burning property, attacking police and looting shops, they were not asked to plead.
They face a fine and up to 10 years in jail if convicted. About 100 riot police stood outside the courthouse in downtown Harare, accompanied by water cannon and armoured cars.
fficers blocked relatives of the accused and members of the public from getting in.
Police arrested three people waving banners criticising President Robert Mugabe, 92, who is facing rising public anger at the dire state of the economy, in particular shortages of cash and unemployment estimated at over 80%.
Defence lawyers will argue that those arrested last week were innocent people caught up in the violence. Magistrate Tendai Mahwe earlier refused bail for political activist Promise Mkwananzi and another man charged with public violence following a protest by opposition youths on August 24.
Mkwananzi is linked to the social media movement # Tajamuka , which joined forces last month with the #ThisFlag campaign of pastor Evan Mawarire to organise a “stay-at-home” p ro t e s t billed as the biggest strike in Zimbabwe since 2007.