Zimbabwean nurses acquitted over work boycott protest

MBARE Magistrate Shelly Zvenyika on Thursday 15 October 2020 acquitted
11 nurses who had been on trial after they were arrested by Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) officers in July and charged with contravening
some national lockdown regulations during a protest over poor salaries
and working conditions.

Magistrate Zvenyika acquitted the 11 nurses at the close of the
prosecution case after their lawyers Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Rudo
Bere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for them to be
discharged arguing that the nurses had not committed an offence
warranting them to be prosecuted.

The 11 nurses namely Ndadyei Gudza, Raikai Chibharo, Moses Sigauke,
Michelle Magonye, Kumbirai Maiswa, Trish Chireka, Nyasha Kapesi,
Evermay Chikoka, Lucas Sharara, Samson Gurupira and Laiza Magwizi,
whose trial commenced on Tuesday 29 September 2020, were arrested on
Monday 6 July 2020 and charged with participating or convening a
gathering knowing that such a gathering is prohibited in terms of
section 5(3)(a) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 Public Health
(COVID 19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment Regulations) National
Lockdown) Order, 2020.

During trial, prosecutors told Magistrate Zvenyika that the nurses
contravened national lockdown regulations when they allegedly gathered
at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare on Monday 6 July 2020 for a
feedback meeting convened over a litany of grievances against
government which is their employer.

The nurses who are employed at various medical centres including
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Chitungwiza Central Hospital and
Sally Mugabe Central Hospital were accused of being part of about 100
people who gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital intending to
stage a demonstration and proceeded to sing protest songs and waved
some placards in contravention of national lockdown regulations.

Sigauke, who is one of the nurses acquitted on Thursday 15 October
2020 returns to court on Monday 26 October 2020 for commencement of
his trial on a charge of incitement as defined in section 187 of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, after he allegedly
recorded a video while in police detention on Monday 6 July 2020 at
Mbare Police Station and posted it on Facebook encouraging other
nurses to come and join the detained nurses in demonstrating at Mbare
Police Station.

The state alleged that Sigauke posted a message on Facebook which
reads; “Ngatingouya tizadze camp tese tiite demo yedu tiri mu camp.
Handiti ndimo munonzi muri illegal,” which if loosely translated
means; “Let’s all gather at the police station and stage our

By posting such a message, prosecutors charged that Sigauke had
incited nurses to gather at Mbare Police Station and demonstrate and
cause violence.