Pro democracy activist acquitted over July solo protest

BULAWAYO Magistrate Shepherd Mjanja on Monday 28 September 2020
acquitted Muzingaye Thaka, a 22 year-old pro-democracy campaigner, who
had been on trial after he was arrested in July for allegedly
embarking on a one-man protest against the arrest and detention of
freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition Transform
Zimbabwe political party leader Jacob Ngarivhume and also demanding an
end to corruption.

Muzingaye was arrested on 30 July 2020 and charged with inciting
public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly inciting public violence,
when he was carrying a placard written “Free Hopewell and Jacob,
journalism is not a crime, kasifuni bumbulu, sesidiniwe, we are tired,
we deserve better. Stop corruption. We want better. Stop police
brutality, we want better. Respect the Constitution. We want a living
wage, free Zimbabwe.”

Muzingaye was acquitted at the close of the prosecution case after his
lawyer Lison Ncube of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for
discharge arguing that the pro-democracy campaigner had not committed
an offence warranting him to be put on trial.

Magistrate Mjanja ruled that prosecutors dismally failed to prove the
offence during trial and that police officers who arrested Muzingaye
were overzealous and acted prematurely in apprehending him.

Apart from Muzingaye, several people across the country are appearing
in court facing similar charges as the Bulawayo-based pro-democracy
campaigner after they were arrested in July and early August for
allegedly protesting against the detention of Chin’ono and Ngaruvhume
and also demanding that government takes action on rampant corruption
in Zimbabwe.