Bertha Sibanda found not guilty

Justice prevailed in Tredgold Magistrate court, Bulawayo for Bertha Sibanda as she was found not guilty of Public Indecency and Public Exposure. Magistrate Ms Charity Maphosa found that the state had failed to show that Bertha Sibanda had offended anyone by her disrobing in the Bulawayo Central police station courtyard on 14 February 2013, which is the last requirement of the Public Indecency Act that satisfies an activity to be a criminal offence.

Bertha had pleaded not guilty to charges of public indecency, claiming that she stripped following an instruction from the arresting police officers who shouted ‘bvisa’ (a Shona language word meaning remove your clothes).

Since her arrest on 14 February 2013, Bertha has appeared in court over 20 times and justice seemed elusive on many occasions. At close of state case, the defense lawyer Kossam Ncube applied for Bertha’s discharge but Magistrate Maphosa ordered that Bertha be put to her defense. Following testimonies from three witnesses, her own narrations of the events leading to her arrest and the submissions from the defense lawyer Mr. Kossam Sibanda, Bertha Sibanda walked out of court today a free woman.

“The case against you is not satisfactory if one of the points was not satisfied”, said the Magistrate Ms Maphosa

She however, highlighted that there is no doubt that the decision to undress was Bertha’s and the fact that she stripped in public was not questionable.

She also questioned “Why would one person undress following the instruction from police and not everyone else? Then answered her own questions by stating, “You probably, you removed your clothes as a protestation against the group’s arrest,” she said.

See closing submissions at the following link

A ruling on the case involving Magodonga Mahlangu is due for hearing in Tredgold court 1 at 8am on 15 October 2013.

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