Magistrate throws out Gwisai community service appeal

Former MDC-T MP Munyaradzi Gwisai and his co-accused have suffered a blow, after a decision by a Harare magistrate to dismiss their appeal against their community service sentence


Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini ruled on Friday to reject the appeal, which had been made by lawyer Alec Muchadehama on behalf of Gwisai, Antonette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo, and Welcome Zimuto.

In his submission Muchadehama had argued that the group could not begin the community service, until the appeal against conviction and sentence has been dealt with.

Dzimbabwe Chimbga, programs manager for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told SW Radio Africa that the ruling means Gwisai and the 5 others will have to proceed and perform the community service starting on Saturday.

‘Today’s (Friday) ruling does not mean the appeal against sentence and conviction falls away. That will be dealt with by the High court. The recourse for the defence at the moment is to appeal against today’s ruling which takes a bit of time knowing our court processes which are quite slow.

‘For intents and purposes by the time that appeal come before the court, most of the community service would have been served,’ Chimbga said.

Gwisai and the five activists were last week convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit public violence. The magistrate ordered the six to pay a $500 fine each. A further 24 months-prison term was imposed on the activists, 12 months of which were suspended on condition of good behaviour for the next five years. The remaining 12 months were suspended on condition the six perform 420 hours of community service, starting on March 31.

On Thursday the state indicated that it will appeal against the sentence meted out to the group. Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba told the court that the sentence was ‘lenient’ and the state insists the group must serve a prison sentence. – SW Radio Africa News

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