Ngarivhume scores first victory in challenge of prosecution over anti-looting demo

HARARE Magistrate Vongai Guwuriro on Monday 22 November 2021 upheld an application for exception to charges of inciting people to commit public violence filed by opposition Transform Zimbabwe political party leader Jacob Ngarivhume and ordered the State to amend its charge sheet so that it clearly specifies the particularities which created the alleged offence.

Jacob Ngarivhume


Magistrate Guwuriro’s order came after Ngarivhume’s lawyer Moses Nkomo
of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights filed an application excepting to
the charges stating that they are infested with a dearth of
particularity and do not inform the opposition political party leader
of the exact nature and scope of the criminal allegations against him.

Ngarivhume was arrested on 20 July 2020 by Zimbabwe Republic Police
officers who accused him of inciting Zimbabweans to revolt against
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government through unconstitutional

In his application, Nkomo argued that the main count of incitement to
commit public violence as defined in Section 187 (1) (a) as read with
section 36 (1)(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act,
wherein it is alleged that between May 2020 to July 2020, Ngarivhume
communicated some messages to the general public on Twitter intending
to persuade or induce members of the public to disturb the peace,
security or order of the public, is a legal nullity which offends
against the provisions of Section 146(1) of the Criminal Procedure and
Evidence Act. The provisions require that “each count of the
indictment, summons or charge shall set forth the offence with which
the accused is charged in such manner and with such particulars as to
the alleged time and place of committing the offence…as maybe
reasonably sufficient to inform the accused of the nature of that

Nkomo argued that the State is on a fishing expedition as the charges
do not cover the essential elements which requires an element of
force, which is absent in the charge and that Ngarivhume did not
advocate for the forcible or violent removal of the government, and
neither did he advocate for violent protests.

The human rights lawyer contended that Ngarivhume is a politician
whose mandate is to challenge the misdeeds of government and that it
was in the exercise of his constitutionally guaranteed rights to call
for peaceful demonstrations against corruption and looting of national

Nkomo argued that by calling for the anti-looting demonstration,
Ngarivhume was constitutionally entitled to do so as freedom to
petition and demonstrate is protected by Section 59 of the
Constitution and that the criminalisation of his exercise of his
political rights infringes on his constitutional rights.

Nkomo said prosecuting Ngarivhume is an egregious abuse of the
criminal justice system as amplifying the fight against corruption in
a democratic society should not be criminalised and that his call was
for a genuine and concerted fight against the scourge of corruption, a
call which has been persistently made by government.

Ngarivhume returns to court on 14 December 2021.

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