Harare Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa on 10 November 2020 granted the State’s application to place journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on remand on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

Magistrate Gofa granted the application on the following reasons:

  • It had been established that Chin’ono was the author of the contentious Tweet (which forms the basis of the charges he is facing).
  • The State had successfully shown that it has a reasonable suspicion that Chin’ono committed an offence.
  • That Chin’ono’s assertion that the State misinterpreted his Tweet is an issue for trial.
  • The fact that Chin’ono is a journalist who was exercising his constitutional rights is a triable issue that shall be a defence when the matter goes to trial.

Following Chin’ono’s placement on remand, his lawyers, led by Beatrice Mtetwa, made an application for bail, which the State is opposing.

The investigating officer, Detective Inspector Naison Chirape, testified that the journalist should not be granted bail because he committed an offence while facing other charges in another matter.

Chirape said Chin’ono’s conduct has a negative impact on the operations of the judiciary, and that if released on bail, he would continue to post Twitter messages. He said there is reasonable suspicion that the journalist would flee given that the offence he faces carries a custodial sentence.

Chin’ono is also on bail on charges of incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry or alternatively incitement to commit public violence.

The bail hearings continue on 11 November 2020.

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Source: Media Institute for Southern Africa Zimbabwe (MISA) Zimbabwe