ZLHR Rescues Nurses Haunted for Violating Covid-19 Regulations as Authorities Make Another Facebook-Related Prosecution

A ZIMBABWEAN court on Tuesday 7 July 2020 set free 11 nurses who were arrested on Monday 6 July 2020 and charged with contravening some national lockdown regulations after they allegedly gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare for a feedback meeting pertaining to a litany of grievances against their employer.

Although Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members first arrested 13 nurses at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital and charged them with partaking in a gathering or convening a gathering, two of the nurses namely Adelaide Mandizvidza and Georgina Muchemwa, who are breastfeeding, were released on Monday 6 July 2020 after paying some admission of guilt fines so as to allow them to attend to their children.

At Mbare Magistrates Court, prosecutors alleged that the 11 nurses namely Ndadyei Gudza, Raikai Chibharo, Moses Sigauke, Michelle Magonye, Kumbirai Maiswa, Trish Chireka, Nyasha Kapesi, Evermay Chikoka, Lucas Sharara, Samson Gurupira and Laiza Magwizi participated or convened a gathering knowing that such gathering is prohibited in terms of section 5(3)(a) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID 19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment Regulations) National Lockdown) Order, 2020.

Prosecutors charged that the nurses who are employed at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Chitungwiza Central Hospital and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital and numbered about 100 gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital intending to stage a demonstration and proceeded to sing protest songs and waved some placards in contravention of national lockdown regulations.

The nurses were ordered to pay RTGS$1 000 bail and to report once a week at various police stations.

Sigauke, one of the nurses, was also charged with incitement as defined in section 187 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, after he allegedly recorded a video while in police detention at Mbare Police Station and posted it on Facebook encouraging other nurses to come and join the detained nurses in demonstrating at Mbare Police Station.

The state alleges that Sigauke posted a message on Facebook which reads; “Ngatingouya tizadze camp tese tiite demo yedu tiri mu camp. Handiti ndimo munonzi muri illegal,” which if loosely translated means; “Let’s all gather at the police station and stage our demonstration.”

By posting such a message, prosecutors charged that Sigauke had incited nurses to gather at Mbare Police Station and demonstrate and cause violence.

For allegedly committing this offence, Sigauke was ordered to pay RTGS$500 in bail money.

The nurses will return to court on 22 July 2020 with Sigauke also appearing in court on the additional charge of incitement on 23 July 2020.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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