First batch of Bulawayo demonstrators acquitted

BULAWAYO Magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa on Tuesday 02 August 2016 set free four Bulawayo residents, who were arrested last month for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest over the country’s worsening economic and political crisis.

shutdownThe four residents, Mthokozisi Ncube aged 25, Alfred Dzirutwe, aged 35, Robson Tera, aged 39 and Thembelihle Sibanda aged 36 years, were arrested on 06 July 2016 and charged with criminal nuisance in contravention of Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 .
Prosecutors claimed that the four unemployed residents interfered with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public and created a nuisance or obstruction when they allegedly gathered in central Bulawayo on 06 July 2016 and wrote and displayed some “derogatory” placards inscribed with messages which read “Mugabe Must Go” and at the same time singing a song laden with the lyrics “Mugabe Must Go”. The prosecutors charged that by so doing Ncube, Dzirutwe, Tera and Sibanda interfered with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public.
However, Magistrate Muchemwa on Tuesday 02 August 2016 set free the four residents after granting an application for discharge at the close of the State case filed by the residents’ lawyers Lison Ncube, Tanaka Muganyi and Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
In their application for discharge at the close of the State case, the human rights lawyers argued that prosecutors had failed during trial to prove essential elements of the offence and above all the residents were exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate and it would be absurd to conclude that their actions would amount to criminal nuisance.
Ncube, Muganyi and Jamela argued that the State dismally failed to prove its case and that the arrest of the four residents was arbitrary.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Sheunesu Matova on Tuesday 02 August overturned a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) ban of a community meeting organised by Rural Communities Empowerment Trust (RCET), a community based organisation, scheduled for Lupane in Matabeleland North province on Wednesday 03 August 2016.
The overturning of the ZRP ban came after RCET, which was represented by Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of ZLHR, filed an expert application at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court seeking and order to bar the police from interfering with the organisation’s public meeting at Lupane Women’s Centre.
The RCET meeting scheduled for Wednesday 03 August 2016 is aimed at educating community members on socio-economic rights as enshrined in the new Constitution and in line with the organisation’s constitutional mandate to educate members of the public on provisions of the Constitution.
Police in Lupane had on Thursday 29 July 2016 banned the RCET meeting citing some unexplained “security unrest” prevailing in the country. But Chanayiwa and Jamela petitioned the Magistrates Court challenging the ZRP ban.
In their application, the human rights lawyers argued that RCET is exempted from notifying police about the holding of their meetings as the organisation is not a political grouping.
The lawyers argued that while RCET had notified the ZRP about their meeting, it was just on courteous grounds rather than seeking authorisation from the law enforcement agents. In banning the meeting, Chanayiwa and Jamela charged that the ZRP had awarded itself powers that it does not have.

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