Reprieve for Masarira as court stops her from performing community service

MBARE Magistrate Stanford Mambanje on Friday 05 May 2017 granted an application filed by pro-democracy activist Linda Masarira for the stay of community service pending the hearing of an appeal in the High Court against her conviction and sentence for participating in an anti-government protest against President Robert Mugabe’s administration last year.

Linda Masarira

Masarira was convicted by Magistrate Mambanje on Friday 03 March 2017 and subsequently sentenced on Monday 06 March 2017 to serve 385 hours of community service at Marlborough clinic in Harare.

Before committing Masarira to serve community service, Magistrate Mambanje had sentenced the human rights campaigner to serve 18 months imprisonment, of  which 7 months were suspended for 5 years on condition of good behaviour while 11 months were suspended on condition she performs 385 hours of community service.

This compelled Masarira’s lawyers Obey Shava and Kudzayi Kadzere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to file an application in the High Court allowing her to appeal against both conviction and sentence of which Justice Edith Mushore on 11 April 2017 paved the way for the pro-democracy campaigner to commence proceedings challenging Magistrate Mambanje’s ruling.

On Friday 05 May 2017, Magistrate Mambanje then granted Masarira’s application for a stay of community service pending the hearing of her appeal against both conviction and sentence by the High Court.

In their application, Masarira’s lawyers argued that the human rights activist’s appeal filed in the High Court carries prospects of success and hence if she continues performing community service now and the appeal succeeds that will be of a mere academic value as she would have suffered an irreparable harm because she would have already complied with an order which would have been granted and the State cannot undo what she would have already done.

The lawyers also argued that the State won’t suffer any prejudice because if the appeal is dismissed by the High Court, Masarira can still proceed to perform the community service.

Masarira was arrested on 06 July 2016 together with nine other Harare residents and charged with contravening Section 38 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly obstructing or endangering free movements of persons or vehicles during the #ShutdownZim2016 anti-government protests.

In convicting Masarira, Magistrate Mambanje labelled the pro-democracy campaigner a notorious activist and a social media agitator.

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