Zim nurses plead not guilty

As trial for violating national lockdown regulations commences

11 ZIMBABWEAN nurses on Tuesday 29 September 2020 pleaded not guilty
when their trial for allegedly contravening some national lockdown
regulations during a protest over poor working conditions commenced.

The 11 nurses namely Ndadyei Gudza, Raikai Chibharo, Moses Sigauke,
Michelle Magonye, Kumbirai Maiswa, Trish Chireka, Nyasha Kapesi,
Evermay Chikoka, Lucas Sharara, Samson Gurupira and Laiza Magwizi
denied contravening any national lockdown regulations when they
allegedly gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare on
Monday 6 July 2020 for a feedback meeting convened over a litany of
grievances against government which is their employer.

Prosecutors told a Mbare Magistrate that the 11 nurses, who are all
out of custody on RTGS$1 000 bail participated or convened a gathering
knowing that such a gathering is prohibited in terms of section
5(3)(a) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID 19
Prevention, Containment and Treatment Regulations) National Lockdown)
Order, 2020.

Prosecutors alleged that the 11 nurses who are employed at various
medical centres including Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Chitungwiza
Central Hospital and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital were part of about
100 people who gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital intending to
stage a demonstration and proceeded to sing protest songs and waved
some placards in contravention of national lockdown regulations.

On Tuesday 29 September 2020, prosecutors led evidence from two
witnesses, who during cross-examination by defence lawyers Rudo Bere
and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
disclosed that they apprehended the nurses after taking orders from
some unnamed superiors.

The 11 nurses return to court on 15 October 2020 when the Magistrate
will hand down a ruling on their application for discharge at the
close of the prosecution case.

Sigauke, who is one of the nurses, also faces a charge of incitement
as defined in section 187 of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act, after he allegedly recorded a video while in police
detention at Mbare Police Station and posted it on Facebook
encouraging other nurses to come and join the detained nurses in
demonstrating at Mbare Police Station.

The state alleges that Sigauke posted a message on Facebook which
reads; “Ngatingouya tizadze camp tese tiite demo yedu tiri mu camp.
Handiti ndimo munonzi muri illegal,” which if loosely translated
means; “Let’s all gather at the police station and stage our
demonstration.”

By posting such a message, prosecutors charged that Sigauke had
incited nurses to gather at Mbare Police Station and demonstrate and
cause violence.

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