Residents convicted over shutdown protests as ZCTU leaders’ trial commences over 2018 demo

NINE people have been convicted for committing public violence after
they allegedly participated in anti-government protests held a
fortnight ago against the worsening economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

In Harare, six residents of Whitecliff high-density suburb were on
Friday 25 January 2019 convicted by Harare Magistrate Elijah Makomo
for allegedly committing public violence during the shutdown protests.

Five of the six residents were sentenced to serve five years in
prison, while the sixth one, was sentenced to serve seven years.

In Mutare, Trymore Nyamaropa was on Friday 25 January 2019 convicted
for allegedly obstructing traffic after he allegedly participated in
an anti-government protest held in the eastern border city two weeks
ago.

In Rusape, two people who include Achford Chari, were on Friday 25
January 2019 sentenced to serve three years in jail after they were
convicted for allegedly obstructing free movement of goods and
vehicles during shutdown protests.

However, it was a different story in Harare, where 13 residents of
Hatcliffe high-density suburb including MDC Alliance party councillor
Elvis Ruzani, who were arrested and charged with public violence, were
set free after Magistrate Elisha Singano acquitted them following the
failure by State witnesses to implicate any of the accused persons in
the commission of the crime. The 13 residents were represented by
Andrew Makoni, Alec Muchadehama and Obey Shava of ZLHR.

At Harare Magistrates Court, Magistrate Edwin Marecha on Monday 28
January 2019 acquitted nine residents of Mabvuku high-density suburb,
who had been on trial on public violence charges after their lawyers
applied for discharge at the close of the State case.
In acquitting the Mabvuku high-density suburb residents, Magistrate
Marecha agreed with the defence lawyers namely Moses Nkomo and Kudzayi
Kadzere of ZLHR that the State had failed to establish the essential
elements of the offence and that there was no evidence that any of the
accused persons had particpated in the anti-government demonstrations.
In addition, Magistrate Marecha ruled that the evidence led by the
State during trial was manifestly unreliable such that no reasonable
court could act on it.

Harare Magistrate Victoria Mashamba on Monday 28 January 2019 also
acquitted Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi, the MDC Alliance party councillor
for Ward 19 in Mabvuku high desnity suburb at the close of the State
case. Councillor Hakutizwi was represented by Tonderai Bhatasara of
ZLHR.

In Marondera, 13 residents, who were arrested and charged with public
violence, were on Monday 28 January 2019 acquitted at the close of the
State case after their lawyer David Dhumbura of ZLHR applied for
discharge. This left Dhumbura with only five residents facing trial.

At Marondera Magistrates Court, two other residents namely Tendai
Leonard Chimwanengara and Elijah Machape, who were also charged with
public violence and represented by Marufu Mandevere of ZLHR, were set
free after they were discharged at the close of the State case,
leaving Tinashe Nyamupepema on trial.

In Chitungwiza, Ketty Mamvura, who was arrested and charged with
public violence, was released just before trial commenced after the
State conceded that there was no evidence linking her to the
commission of the alleged offence. Mamvura was represented by Tinomuda
Shoko and Idirashe Chikomba of ZLHR.

Meanwhile, seven Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders on
Monday 28 January 2019 denied committing public violence when their
trial commenced before Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa.

The seven ZCTU leaders namely President Peter Mutasa,
Secretary-General Japhet Moyo, Benice Maluleke, Prescilla Jonhi, Simon
Mutasa, Munashe Chirovamari and Ezekiel Matema are on trial for
allegedly committing public violence as defined in section 37(1)(a) of
the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly
participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence,
breaches of peace or bigotry.

The unionists were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers
on Thursday 11 October 2018 and charged with committing public
violence after ZRP officers swooped on them in a pre-emptive strike to
thwart an anti-government demonstration organised by the labour union
to protest against government’s disastrous economic policies.