Epworth residents acquitted after by-elections campaign arrest

HARARE Magistrate Ruth Moyo on Thursday 22 September 2022 acquitted three residents of Epworth, who had been on trial answering to public violence charges after they were arrested during the run-up to the 26 March 2022 by-elections.

The Epworth residents, Nobody Makoni aged 52 years, Agnes Mabhena aged
48 years and Patricia Zihanzu aged 50 years, were standing trial at
Harare Magistrates Court after they were arrested on 27 February 2022
while conducting a door to door political campaign to mobilse support
for their opposition Citizens Coalition for Change political party
candidates and charged with public violence as defined in section
36(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

During trial, prosecutors alleged that while at Belapedzi Farm in
Epworth, Makoni, Mabhena and Zihanzu unlawfully and forcibly disturbed
the peace, security and order of the public to a serious extent by
assaulting Stanley Muchemwa, a ruling ZANU PF party supporter, who was
reportedly walking from his residence. Muchemwa, prosecutors alleged,
sustained injuries after being assaulted by a metal golf stick, open
palms and booted feet.

But on Thursday 22 September 2022, Magistrate Moyo set the trio free
after acquitting them at the close of the prosecution case as their
lawyer Gift Mtisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights argued during
trial that Makoni, Mabhena and Zihanzu were actually the victims of
assault by some ZANU PF party supporters and had been targeted for
their affiliation to CCC political party, which is a rival to the
ruling political party. Magistrate Moyo agreed with Mtisi’s
submissions while prosecutors conceded that they had failed to prove a
prima facie case against the three Epworth residents.

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