A ZIMBABWEAN teacher based in the United Kingdom, Martin William Chinyanga, is set to be tried by a British court after he was charged with encouraging terrorism through his Facebook posts.
The outspoken Chinyanga, 50, a resident of north London, was charged in January with four counts of encouraging terrorism, in line with the UK’s Terrorism Act.
Referred to by state media in Zimbabwe as an activist of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance, Chinyanga was arrested on February 25 last year by officers from the London Metropolitan Counter Terrorism Command and appeared in court last month.
UK media reported that last week Chinyanga appeared at the Old Bailey before Justice Sweeney. His preparatory hearing is set for May 28, while January 10, 2022, is the provisional trial date.
During last week’s preliminary hearing, Chinyanga only confirmed his name, address and date of birth.
The online videos were posted on Facebook in December 2019. The videos encouraged viewers to burn down petrol stations and businesses in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare to put ‘pressure’ on the government led by Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa. The video was reported to the UK authorities, resulting in Chinyanga’s arrest.
In Zimbabwe, The Herald reported that Chinyanga had previous brushes with the law.
In 2015, he was arrested and detained at London’s Charing Cross police station for being part of a group that conducted an illegal demonstration at the Zimbabwean embassy.
According to media reports at the time, Chinyanga was questioned about trespassing and illegally entering the Zimbabwean embassy three times in less than three months. Chinyanga was also detained for resisting arrest when he was picked up at the time.