Pro-Democracy Campaigner Acquitted over Shutdown Protest

A ZIMBABWEAN court on Tuesday 5 February 2019 ended the lengthy detention in prison of prominent pro-democracy campaigner Kukhanyakwenkosi Mkandla, who was arrested last month and charged with public violence over the anti-government demonstrations held across the country.

The 34-year-old Mkandla was arrested on 17 January 2019 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers in Gwanda in Matabeleland South province and charged with public violence as defined in section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act or alternatively for malicious damage to property as defined in section 140 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

During trial, which was presided over by Magistrate Nomagugu Ncube, prosecutors claimed that Mkandla, a film maker, forcibly disturbed the peace, security or order of the public by going on a rampage destroying property and in the process stoning ZANU PF provincial headquarters offices and damaging four window panes and uprooted a sign post at the ruling party’s offices.

But Magistrate Ncube on Tuesday 5 February acquitted Mkandla, who was represented by Mehluli Dube of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), after ruling that there were several inconsistences in the evidence led by the state from its witnesses during the human rights activist’s trial.

Meanwhile, the trial of Nkanyiso Ncube, another Gwanda resident on public violence charges continued at Gwanda Magistrates Court on Wednesday 6 February 2019, where he is also facing charges of obstructing or endangering free movement of persons or traffic as defined in section 38(c) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutors claim that Ncube burnt some tyres and placed them on the tarmac and blocked traffic and the free movement of persons, thereby endangering people or traffic using the road.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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