HARARE, Zimbabwe — In a very surprise turn of events, a court in Zimbabwe has freed pastor Evan who organized the largest nationwide strike against the government in nearly a decade, ruling that police violated his rights.
Magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe told a packed courtroom that the decision to bring new charges in court against Evan Mawarire was unconstitutional.
Pastor Evan was charged with inciting violence when he was arrested on Tuesday the 12th of July, but prosecutors shortly before his court appearance Wednesday changed it to more serious charges of treason for attempting to overthrow a constitutionally elected government.
After what has been regarded as the biggest protest to ever occur in Zimbabwe in well over a decade, Pastor Evans Mawarire has been set free and all charges have been dropped. This has marked one of the most historic moments in Zimbabwe. Normally, the Government would throw the accused in a jail cell and throw the key away or worse would meet an untimely death in a car accident. Normally where the person in the back seat being the only casualty.
Zimbabweans all over the world are celebrating and those at the court house present at the time were singing and praising God for setting the man behind the campaign free.
Pastor Evan’s lawyer protested that the last-minute change of the charges was unconstitutional, and incredibly the magistrate agreed.
Hundreds of singing supporters greeted the release of Pastor Evan Mawarire, who has rallied Zimbabweans with a social media campaign called #ThisFlag, encouraging them to reclaim their flag by urging President Robert Mugabe’s government to properly manage the country’s battered economy. This despite Whatsapp being shutdown last week.
“We will not relent until our demands are met. Corruption must end,” Pastor Evan Mawarire told the raucous crowd outside the court room with a Zimbabwe flag draped around his neck. Supporters, standing in the dark, held up candles and mobile phones to light him.
Dozens of supporters in the courtroom’s public gallery had laughed in derision when the prosecutor announced the new charges, which could have brought Mawarire at least 20 years in prison.
During the day, hundreds of supporters outside the Harare Magistrates Court, many wearing the Zimbabwe flag, sang in defiance. Activists chanted slogans and prayed. Riot police with water cannons surrounded the court house in Harare.
Many people last week answered Mawarire’s call on social media for a stay away on the 6th of July to protest dismal economic conditions. It was the largest such boycott in Zimbabwe in nearly a decade.
Another boycott had been called for Wednesday, but the response appeared muted. The government has warned organizers of further protests that “they will face the full wrath of the law.”