Justice Tawanda Chitapi has granted $20,000 bail each to MDC Alliance duo Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri.
Judge Chitapi however said their alleged conduct was “testing the court’s patience.”
The duo spent two months at Chikurubi maximum Prison for allegedly violating Covid 19 rules after they addressed a press conference to condemn the jailing of a fellow MDC A youth activist.
Justice Chitapi of the Harare High Court who twice postponed his judgement, said he will give the duo their freedom even as he noted that they are likely to commit other offences.
“It remains a fact that their conduct stretches the court’s patience… as such bail will be granted in strict conditions,” the judge ruled.
Mamombe and Chimbiri, the judge said, are barred from addressing any gathering of more than 50 people as part of their release conditions.
Mamombe and Chimbiri were arrested on March 5 and charged with breaching Covid-19 regulations after addressing a news conference on the steps of the Harare Magistrate’s Court calling for the release of pro-democracy campaigner Makomborero Haruzivishe, who is serving a 14-month prison sentence for “resisting arrest and inciting public violence.”
The two women have at least three other pending cases before the courts. Before their release on Wednesday, they had launched three unsuccessful bids to be granted bail.
Justice Chitapi said if criminal offences one is accused of involved related conduct, they constituted a threat to the criminal justice and bail system.
The judge however said a magistrate who turned down a bail application by the duo under changed circumstances was supposed to establish if they had established new facts.
Justice Chitapi agreed with defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama that Covid-19 regulations have been relaxed, and that Mamombe and Chimbiri were now allowed to address a gathering of not more than 50 people.
The judge still reserved criticism for the defence, saying their grounds of appeal were too generalised.
“My comment on the grounds of appeal is that they are generalised with no impact on their request. The appellants should have attacked the decision by the lower court to deny them bail,” he said.
Chitapi said only one ground out of 12 submitted was compelling.
The judge said Mamombe and Chimbiri should give the criminal justice system a chance to determine their innocence than to continue re-offending, saying this was a mockery of the justice system.
He said Mamombe, as an MP, has much to lose if she disregards the law which she swore to uphold, but will give her another chance to reform.
The judge also warned her to respect her oath as a parliamentarian.
Justice Chitapi charged that Chimbiri was a “support cast” actress who only imitates or follows what Mamombe does.
Lawyers for the two women say they have never been convicted of any crime, and there is no basis to deny them bail on mere allegations.