A Harare magistrate has released on bail the two Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) employees who were arrested last week.

Ellen Chademana (34) and Ignatius Mhambi (38) were arrested for alleged possession of pornography in a raid on the GALZ offices on Friday. They were subsequently also charged with “undermining the authority of the President”.

On Thursday, Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi freed Chademana and Mhambi after their lawyers, Dzimbabwe Chimbga and David Hofisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), argued for their release.

State Prosecutor Bruce Tokwe opposed bail, but Magistrate Mutevedzi granted the bail application after ruling that the two activists were suitable candidates for bail as they were not a flight risk.

They were ordered to pay US$200 in bail with the clerk of court and to report twice a week to the CID Drugs Section at Harare Central Police Station.

Chademana and Mhambi were also ordered to surrender their passports with the clerk of court and not to travel for more than 40 kilometres outside Harare without the authority of the investigating officer.

Both Chademana and Mhambi have alleged that they were tortured by police while they were in detention.

In a separate application heard by High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa, lawyers for the two GALZ employees argued that the High Court should rule on the legality of the detention, which they claim was unlawful because it extended for longer than the 48 hours allowed under the law.

“Such ruling will go a long way in clarifying how long and under what circumstances the police can continue to hold suspects,” said ZLHR in a statement.

Judge Musakwa ordered the State to file its response within 10 days.

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