Harare – Leading Zimbabwean activist and pastor Evan Mawarire was freed on bail Tuesday after being detained for 13 days following violent anti-government protests.
“I’m persuaded in the case… that the interest of justice will be served by the admission of the applicant to bail,” Judge Tawanda Chitapi told the courthouse in Harare.
Nationwide demonstrations erupted two weeks ago after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that fuel prices were being doubled in a country suffering regular shortages of fuel, food, and medicine.
At least 12 people died in the ensuing crackdown in which security forces said they arrested more than 1,100 individuals, including leading trade unionists and opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmakers and senior figures.
Mawarire was arrested on subversion charges at his home on January 16. He faced charges of incitement to commit violence for posting videos on social media supporting the national strike called by trade unions.
The outspoken pastor was granted bail on condition that he surrenders his passport and reports to a police station three times a week.
The prosecution had opposed Mawarire’s bail application, claiming he was likely to abscond.
After Tuesday’s ruling, lawyers said he should be released Wednesday from Chikurubi maximum security prison on the outskirts of Harare.
The pastor became a prominent voice during protests of 2016 when he posted videos on social media criticising the government while wearing a Zimbabwean flag around his neck.
His posts inspired the #ThisFlag movement that led mass protests against former President Robert Mugabe, ousted in November 2017 after a military takeover.