Zimbabwe has released a group of Christian sect members arrested in July for singing protest gospels after a court handed down suspended sentences, their lawyers said Wednesday.
Police arrested 34 worshipers from an apostolic sect as they walked through downtown Harare wearing colorful church regalia and singing “(Lord) please take us out of our suffering,” the lawyers said.
Most of the group were young women affiliated with the small opposition Zimbabwe Transformation Party (ZTP).
On Tuesday, a Harare court found 34 people guilty of harming a peaceful demonstration and sentenced each to three months’ probation and a Z$12,000 ($33) fine.
The authorities said their actions obstructed the passage of people and vehicles, and the protesters did not follow the police order to stop.
The group spent four months behind bars after refusing to ask for bail.
“We just got out of jail and are still considering our next move,” ZTP deputy head Simon Ghoshomi, who was among those detained, told AFP on Wednesday.
Attorney Evans Moyo said his clients were “dissatisfied” with the verdict and could appeal.
Human rights groups and opposition parties have complained about the government’s increased crackdown on dissent as the country moves closer to next year’s general election.
ZTP leader Kanyenzura Parere, who was also arrested during the July protest, is being tried separately on different charges of violating the law. peace and remains in prison.
Parere – Bishop of the Apostolic Church Mirirai Jehovah.
Discontent is growing in Zimbabwe as President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced longtime ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, struggles to alleviate entrenched poverty, end the country’s chronic power outages and curb inflation.
Human rights groups have complained about repeated arbitrary detentions and often exceptionally harsh detentions under Mnangagwa.