Zimbabwe: Magistrate orders #ThisFlag pastor’s release

The magistrate ruled that police had violated Evan Mawarire’s constitutional rights, and ordered his release.

Zimbabwean cleric Evan Mawarire, wrapped in the Zimbabwean national flag, recording an installment of his #ThisFlag video series. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - A Zimbabwean magistrate has ordered the release of popular protest pastor, Evan Mawarire, who was arrested on Tuesday and later charged with trying to overthrow the government.

The court ruled this evening that his arrest by police detectives on Tuesday was unconstitutional.

This is being seen as a major victory by Pastor Mawarire's supporters, who kept up a vigil throughout the day singing and praying as they waited for the court to make its ruling.

Tensions mounted this afternoon, after state lawyers said they were changing the charges against the pastor to a much more serious one of subverting a constitutional government.

Mawarire started an online movement with the hashtag 'This Flag' back in April, and then led calls for a stay away last Wednesday and this week.

The pastor was arrested yesterday, on charges of inciting public violence after he led calls for strikes in Zimbabwe.

LISTEN:Reasons behind Zimbabwean pastor's detention