Bulawayo police recently summoned Duduzile Sibanda, a resident of Saucetown suburb, to stand trial on charges of contravening the Electoral Act.
State prosecutor Trust Mudimu alleged that the 54 year-old woman who was “arrested” by some Zanu (PF) members and handed over to the police, defaced a poster of Mugabe in March 2008, which was on a wall at Skippers Garage in Saucetown suburb.
According to the state such actions, which allegedly took place in the run up to the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008, was an offence.
However, human rights lawyers have brought relief to Sibanda after halting her trial by challenging the state’s failure to conclude her trial on time.
Bulawayo Magistrate Thobekile Mkhosana recently granted an application filed by Sibanda’s lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, referring the matter to the Supreme Court so that the constitutional court could quash the charges on the grounds that the long period taken for her case to be finalised by the court violated her constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial.
“It will be very unfair for the trial to commence now as it will undermine the applicant’s right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as enshrined in the Constitution,” reads part of Jamela’s application.
According to state prosecutors, Sibanda’s trial could not be finalised because state witnesses did not turn up in court two years ago while some witnesses have since passed away without having presented their oral statements.