ZLHR rescues villagers and juveniles as court acquits man charged for assaulting police officer

AN intervention by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has resulted in the release on bail of 72 Matopo villagers, who were forcibly evicted by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and arrested on Thursday 02 November 2017 and charged with contravening Section 3(1) of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act (Chapter 20:28.

The 72 villagers, who include juveniles and elderly persons, were evicted by ZRP officers from Fox Farm in Matopo in Matabeleland South province and arrested before being detained at Matopo Police Station.

When the villagers appeared at Khezi Magistrates Court in Matabeleland South province on Friday 03 November 2017, where they were represented by Lison Ncube and Jabulani Mhlanga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), prosecutors claimed that they had unlawfully occupied some land of which they were not authorised to occupy, hold or use.

But the villagers’ agony came to an end on Friday 03 November 2017 after Magistrate Arafat Khonzani granted them free bail and ordered them to report to the police once every week on Friday and not interfere with state witnesses.

Magistrate Khonzani remanded the 72 villagers out of custody to Tuesday 28 November 2017.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Blessing Murwisi on Friday 03 November 2017 acquitted a 43 year-old man, who had been on trial after he was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

Chari, who resides in Harare’s high-density suburb of Mabvuku, was arrested by ZRP officers on Wednesday 16 August 2017 and charged with assaulting or resisting a peace officer as defined in section 176 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

During trial, prosecutors claimed that Chari, who was charged with two counts, assaulted a peace officer Mukarwi Tawanda, who is employed as a police officer and stationed at Harare Central Police Station’s Operations Unit, by poking him on the shoulder after accusing him of causing the death of his child.

On the second count, prosecutors alleged that Chari, who was represented by Kuzivakwashe Ngodza of ZLHR, impersonated a public officer by producing a pistol gun and stated that it was a service pistol as he is an employee from the Office of the President and Cabinet and as a Central Intelligence Organisation operative, in contravention of section 179 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

Prosecutors charged that Chari lied to some ZRP officers who had arrested him for allegedly assaulting one of them that he was a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation operative and had failed to produce any supporting documents to prove his claim.

The State argued that Chari had no right whatsoever, for the purposes of obtaining any advantage, to impersonate a public official.

However, on Friday 03 November 2017, Chari was acquitted by Magistrate Murwisi who ruled that the witness statements given by the two state witnesses namely Muzanenhamo Onasis and Mukarwi himself, who testified against him during trial, were inconsistent and there were no independent witnesses.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights