At least 69 Songea residents appeared before Songea district magistrate’s court yesterday to answer charges of taking part in an illegal demonstration in which two people were shot dead and several properties destroyed.
State attorney Edison Mwavanda told resident magistrate Elizabeth Missana in the packed court that all 69 defendants participated in an illegal demonstration on February 22, this year.
Mwavanda told the court that the accused stormed the CCM building, breaking down a door worth 150,000/- and tore the party’s flag worth 20,000 /-.
The accused pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.
At least 37 secured sureties while 32 failed and were remanded in custody until March 8, when the case comes up for another mention.
The move comes barely three days after three people were killed and many others injured during a fracas in Songea municipality, Ruvuma Region.
Of the three, two were shot dead after police intervened to stop protesters marching to the central police station and one died in a motorcycle accident during the fracas.
Four policemen are in custody in Songea over the firing of live bullets which killed two civilians and wounded several other protesters.
RPC Michael Kamhanda told reporters that the police officers being interrogated and if it is established they were irresponsible, legal measures will be taken against them.
Already human rights activists have requested President Jakaya Kikwete to take action against the Ruvuma Regional Commissioner and the Regional Police Commander.
The Southern Africa Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRINGON) National Coordinator, Martina Kabisama said the protests were due to failure by regional authorities to tackle the brutal murders which began in November last year.
Kabisama said SAHRINGON strongly condemned the government for not taking immediate action to end the killings.
For his part lawyer Armando Swenya said the police were to blame for the fracas for trying to stop the marchers.
In another development the Chama Cha Kijamii (CCK) has also condemned the killings saying it had political motives.
It called on the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance to question the top leaders of the police force on the blatant violation of human and citizen rights.
In his statement the CCK Chairperson Constantine Akitanda said the Songea police Commander, Michael Kamhanda must be questioned about the whole incident.
Chadema has also condemned the police action and called for a thorough probe of the incident.
The Ruvuma Regional Commissioner, Said Mwambungu who is the chairman of the regional defence and security committee on Thursday announced an eight-man team to probe the fracas and submit a report to the committee next Thursday