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Legal Woes For Zimbabwe Opposition Faction At Home And Abroad

Seven members of the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai appeared in Harare courts on Wednesday, five asking the high court to order their release on bail while two faced new charges in magistrate’s court.

Morgan Komichi and Dennis Murira were accused of paying for party members to be trained in sabotage in South Africa, and were ordered held by police until May 10.

The high court case failed to advance as the state prosecutor said he was not ready - the hearing was put off until Thursday.

About 30 members of the faction have been held by authorities since a raid on its Harare headquarters on March 28. Authorities said then that they were investigating a series of firebombings of police posts and other targets, accusing the opposition of mounting the attacks - which officials of both MDC factions have denied.

Faction legal secretary Innocent Gonese, member of parliament for Mutare Central, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the judiciary has wronged its members by denying them bail and ignoring reports of police torture.

The Tsvangirai MDC faction faced legal problems in South Africa too.

South African immigration authorities picked up six officials of the Rustenberg branch of the faction who were unable to produce residency documents. Those caught in a random street check while heading to a district congress meeting included the chairman and secretary general of the local Tsvangirai faction branch.

Hundreds of other Zimbabweans living illegally in South Africa were also arrested in the immigration sweep in Rustenberg, a city in the wine country of North West Province not far from Johannesburg.

MDC spokesman George Chibochiwa told reporter Patience Rusere that the faction did not see any political motive behind the arrests.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...