Vendors acquitted over protest against ZRP and HCC operation to remove them from CBD

A ZIMBABWEAN court has acquitted three informal traders, who had been on trial for allegedly committing public violence late last year.

The informal traders namely David Mazibiye, Tinashe Mbofana and Maxwell Mushamba were arrested on Thursday 12 October 2017 in Harare by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged with public violence as defined in Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

During trial, prosecutors claimed that the trio forcibly disturbed the peace, security or order of the public to a serious extent by throwing stones and missiles at a fast food outlet along Speke Avenue and damaged the front display window as they protested against a ZRP and Harare City Council joint operation code-named “Restore Sunshine City”, aimed at removing vendors from trading in Harare’s central business district.

But Harare Magistrate Ruramai Chitumbura on Wednesday 14 February 2018 acquitted Mazibiye, Mbofana and Mushamba, who were represented by Tinomuda Shoko of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, after ruling that there were some discrepancies from the testimony of the first State witness to that of the investigations officer and that there was a possibility of mistaken identity, which could have resulted in the arrest of innocent people, who were not linked to the commission of the alleged offence.

In their defence outline, Mazibiye, Mbofana and Mushamba had argued that they were victims of a dragnet arrest effected by ZRP officers against vendors operating in the Central Business District.

Magistrate Chitumbura said one of the State witnesses’ testimony was doubtful while the ZRP officers who apprehended the informal traders were never called to testify during the full trial.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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