Court Acquits University Students Charged Over Protest

BULAWAYO Magistrate Gladmore Mushowe on Thursday 17 October 2019 acquitted five Lupane State University (LSU) students who had been on trial on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice after they allegedly staged a protest at the campus.

The five Lupane State University students namely Ayanda Nkomo, Emkela Ngwenga, Wiston Mukombe, Marble Ndlovu, Nhloniphani Sibanda were arrested at college on 4 March 2019 by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, who charged them with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

During trial at Western Commonage Magistrates Court, prosecutors claimed that Nkomo, Ngwenya, Mukombe, Ndlovu and Sibanda, who were represented by Jabulani Mhlanga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had defeated or obstructed the course of justice after they allegedly protested against the university authorities’ decision to bar the leader of their Student Representative Council from entering the university premises and attending a students’ meeting, where they wanted to raise their grievances to their student representative body.

However Magistrate Mushowe on Thursday 17 October 2019 acquitted the five LSU students of the charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice after ruling that the State failed to discharge its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the students committed the alleged offence.

The Magistrate also ruled that the State case including the testimony of State witnesses who testified during trial was fraught with irreconcilable inconsistencies and irregularities that rendered it fatal.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights