Trial no laughing matter

A Magistrate here has set September 8, 2011 as the trial date for three youths who are being prosecuted for laughing at a cartoon.

Gift Mlalazi, Mpumelelo Donga and Kevin Ncube, all members of the MDC-T and residents of Nkulumane Township, are charged with contravening Section 33 (2)(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law Codification Act, Cap 9.23 “Causing Hatred, Contempt or Ridicule of the President”.

The state alleges that Kevin visited Sauerstown suburb on February 20, where he was arrested for allegedly being in possession of a cartoon that the police claims ridicules President Robert Mugabe, First Lady Grace Mugabe and Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono.

After further interrogation, Kevin is alleged to have disclosed to police that Gift initially discovered the comic strip on a tarred road in Nkulumane Township. It is alleged that Gift picked up the caricature and showed it to his two friends who laughed. Kevin is alleged to have kept the drawing, which Sauerstown police reportedly found on his person.

The trio is represented by Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). As part of their bail conditions, they continue to report at Nkulumane Police Station every Friday between 6am to 6pm. They are remanded out of custody on US$50 bail each. Jamela argues that, “Picking up the caricature on the tarred road does not constitute an offence.”

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