Court sets free man charged over Mnangagwa portrait

BULAWAYO Magistrate Rachel Mukanga has set free Wisdom Mkwananzi, a man who was arrested last week and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Magistrate Mukanga ordered Mkwananzi to pay $200 bail, report at Bulawayo Central Police Station once a week, reside at his given residential address and not to interfere with witnesses.

Mkwananzi was arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on Friday 26 October 2018 and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa as defined in section 33(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 after he allegedly stated during a public hearing conducted at Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo by the Commission of Inquiry into the 01 August 2018 killing of civilians, that he had been orphaned because the ZANU PF party leader had masterminded the killing of his parents during the Gukurahundi mass killings in the early 80’s.

The law enforcement agents alleged that the 32 year-old Mkwananzi, allegedly pointed at President Mnangagwa’s portrait, which was pasted onto the wall during his testimony before the former South African leader Kgalema Motlanthe-led Commission of Inquiry into the post-election violence and stated that “I am an orphan because of this man, he killed my parents.”

ZRP officers charged that by uttering such a statement, Mkwananzi, who was represented by Jabulani Mhlanga and Tinashe Runganga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), engendered a feeling of hostility towards or caused hatred or ridicule of President Mnangagwa. Mkwananzi was also charged with lying under oath as defined in section 10 of the Justice of Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act Chapter 7:09.

The police officers claimed that Mkwananzi unlawfully and intentionally supplied a false name to the Commission of Inquiry after he allegedly told the probe team that his name is Siphatha Mandla, which is different from the name, which appears on his national identity card. Mkwananzi also faces a third charge of assault as defined in section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, where ZRP officers alleged that he intentionally bit Luckmore Dube once on the right hand intending to cause bodily harm.

Mkwananzi was remanded out of custody to Tuesday 13 November 2018.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights