Mbare Magistrate Shelly Zvenyika on Thursday 15 October 2020 acquitted 11 nurses who had been on trial after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers in July and charged with contravening some national lockdown regulations during a protest over poor salaries and working conditions.
Magistrate Zvenyika acquitted the 11 nurses at the close of the prosecution case after their lawyers Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Rudo Bere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for them to be discharged arguing that the nurses had not committed an offence warranting them to be prosecuted.
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, whose trial commenced on Tuesday 29 September 2020, were arrested on Monday 6 July 2020 and charged with participating or convening a gathering knowing that such a 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.
During trial, prosecutors told Magistrate Zvenyika that the nurses contravened national lockdown regulations when they allegedly gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare on Monday 6 July 2020 for a feedback meeting convened over a litany of grievances against government which is their employer.
The nurses who are employed at various medical centres including Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Chitungwiza Central Hospital and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital were accused of being part of about 100 people who 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.
Sigauke, who is one of the nurses acquitted on Thursday 15 October 2020 returns to court on Monday 26 October 2020 for commencement of his trial on a charge of incitement as defined in section 187 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, after he allegedly recorded a video while in police detention on Monday 6 July 2020 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 alleged 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.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights