Artist Mhlanga acquitted

BULAWAYO On Wednesday, May 11, Bulawayo Magistrate Thobekile Mkhosana acquitted prominent artist Styx Mhlanga, who had been on trial for allegedly assaulting budding poet Magura Charumbira, after suggesting that the list of national heroes - Joseph Msika, John Nkomo and Gibson Sibanda should be cited in Charumbiras poem.

Magistrate Mkhosana acquitted Mhlanga, also a film director based at the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo, at the close of the State case after the artists lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) applied for discharge.

In their application for discharge, Jamela and Chanayiwa argued that putting Mhlanga on defence is not proper as the State had failed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt that the artist had committed the offence.

The lawyers said since the State had already closed its case no other evidence would be brought forward and the evidence submitted in court falls by the wayside in establishing a prima facie case.

Jamela and Chanayiwa also argued that Mhlanga had in his defence outline denied the allegations and stated that Charumbira was the one who was the aggressor in the whole incident, both verbally and physically, after the artist had merely passed constructive criticism on the budding poets poem when he came to the National Art Gallery seeking assistance.

Mhlanga had been on trial since last month after he was charged with contravening Section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and Chapter 9:23 with regards to assault.

Prosecutors alleged that Mhlanga, a younger brother to prominent Zimbabwean playwright, actor and theatre director Cont Mhlanga, assaulted Charumbira after he rejected his suggestion of slotting in and applauding some heroes from Matabeleland, who had not been honoured by Charumbira during the citation of his poem.

They said Charumbira visited an office at the National Art Gallery on March 7 to get inspiration and some advice from Mhlangas colleague Sithandazile Dube, who shares offices with Mhlanga.

Mhlanga allegedly commented that Charumbira should also include heroes like John Nkomo, Joseph Msika and Gibson Sibanda in his poem – but this did not go down well with Charumbira, resulting in an argument with the accused expressing harsh words.

The prosecutors alleged that Mhlanga, angered by Charumbiras refusal to take his advice, picked up a stone sculpture and tried to hit the novice poet but was restrained by Dube.

Post published in: Arts

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