Zim: Opposition MDC official charged with murdering cop

2017-07-12 09:15
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Harare - Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official and charged him with murdering a policeman during skirmishes that erupted in Harare between street vendors and police late last month, his lawyer said.

MDC youth chairperson for Harare's Mbare district Barnabas Mwanaka, was arrested on Saturday. He denies the murder charge.

"It [the arrest] is definitely politically-motivated," lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara told News24.

Not near crime scene

He said his client was attending the funeral of a friend's grandmother at the time of the alleged murder.

"My client has advised me that he was nowhere near the scene of the crime," said Bhatasara. He said a traffic policeman had arrested his client on Saturday because he was a familiar face within the opposition.

"This officer recognised him, he grabbed him by the collar and said 'I want to teach an MDC person a lesson'," said the lawyer.

He said he would apply for bail for his client at the Harare High Court on Tuesday.

When news of Mwanaka's arrest for murder emerged on Monday, it was the first time the public was informed that a policeman had been killed during the clashes between vendors and police on June 29.

The dead policeman has been identified as Talkmore Phiri, a member of the police anti-riot squad.

The violence was triggered after police tried to evict street vendors plying their trade outside the government’s deeds office.

Dead on arrival

A state prosecutor told the Harare Magistrates’ Court on Monday that Mwanaka was amongst a mob of "rogue vendors" from outside the MDC's central Harare headquarters that attacked a police vehicle, reports the state-controlled Herald.

Phiri and a colleague are said to have fallen out of the vehicle.

"The court further heard that Mwanaka and his alleged accomplices ran towards the two officers and caught up with Phiri, before attacking him," the paper said. The officer died on arrival at hospital.

The MDC has denied claims its youths attacked police.

Read more on:    mdc  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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