Magistrate acquits NUST students over public violence

Bulawayo Magistrate Thobekile Matimbe on Monday 30 January 2012 acquitted two National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students, who had been on trial for allegedly committing public violence in contravening of Section 37 (1) (a) (i) and (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The NUST students Dancan Mombeshora aged 23 years and Beven Nyamande

aged 21 years, who were represented by Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had been on trial since last year for allegedly contravening Section 37 (1) (a) (i) and (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace and bigotry.

Prosecutor Tinashe Dzipe alleged that Mombeshora and Nyamande, who were arrested on 1 June 2010 after NUST students peacefully demonstrated against the university administration’s decision to bar students who had not paid tuition fees in full from writing examinations in June 2010 broke into song and threw stones before running away from university authorities. Dzipe said the students were arrested by the police who claimed to have monitored their movements.

Mombeshora and Nyamande had been jointly charged with two other NUST students, Ernest Makoni and David Mushanawani who were discharged at the close of the State case on 12 January 2012 by Magistrate Matimbe.

In acquitting Mombeshora and Nyamande, Magistrate Matimbe ruled that Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act does not criminalize mere gathering but acts that threaten peace. The Magistrate appreciated the evidence given by one of the defence witnesses, Johannes Moyo, a security officer at NUST, who emphasized that there was no violence or breach of peace at all in the conduct of the students who simply requested to be addressed by the Vice Chancellor of the university regarding the college’s directive on payment of tuition fees.

Magistrate Matimbe dismissed the evidence by the State witnesses, who were all police officers and said their testimonies were highly suspicious and “too clear to be true”.

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