Application for stay of community service dismissed

A Harare magistrate, Mr. Kudakwashe Jarabini has ruled that Welcome Zimuto, and five civic society activists Munyaradzi Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Antoneta Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Edson Chakuma should perform community service while they wait for the High Court to hear their appeal against both conviction and sentence.

The six were sentenced to twenty-four months in custody of which twelve months were suspended for five years on condition that they don’t commit a similar offence. The other twelve months were suspended on condition that they pay a US$500 fine and perform four hundred and twenty hours of community service at their nearest government institution. Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini last week found the six guilty on charges of Conspiracy to commit public violence as defined in section 188 as read with section 36 of the Criminal Law (codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23].

The six had argued that It would be prejudice should their appeal be granted since the appeal process takes long and the grounds of their appeal are highly prospective of an overturn in the high court. The six also felt that the state would not suffer any prejudice since even if their appeal is thrown out; they will still would go for the community service.

Today’s ruling means that Welcome and five others will start their community service tomorrow .Zimuto, a former Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Deputy Secretary General will be doing his community service at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital.

The SST condemns in the strongest terms the heavy handedness shown by Mr. Jarabini. We conclude that the political message is that Zimbabweans are not expected to freely and peacefully associate, even in the confines of their private and protected spaces; they are not expected to freely express their views, legitimately critique public officers, or express their dissent. Zimbabweans will not be allowed to question the authority of those who hold national and political office even where such officers may have failed to deliver on their mandate and obligations.

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