“Last laugh for Manjengwa and Zawaira as court sets them free after arrest for Sikhala court solidarity”

Terrence Manjengwa, an acquaintance of Zengeza West legislator Hon. Job Sikhala is having the proverbial “last laugh” after two Harare Magistrates recently set him free by removing him from remand on charges of disorderly conduct and dealing or possession of prohibited knives.

Manjengwa and Tanyaradzwa Ziwaira, who were represented by Webster Jiti of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), were arrested on 24 August 2020 at Harare Magistrates Court and charged with disorderly conduct as defined in section 41(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act while attending the court session for Hon Sikhala and were accused of singing a protest song denouncing the incarceration of the opposition party legislator.

In court, prosecutors claimed that Manjengwa and Ziwaira acted unlawfully by singing a song with the lyrics “siyanai naye Sikhala munomuvengerei” which if translated literally means “leave Sikhala alone” and uttering the words “Sikhala ngaabube” which if translated literally means “free Job Sikhala now”. However, Harare Magistrate Tendai Muchini recently removed the two from remand after the State failed to avail witnesses for trial to commence.

Manjengwa has also been removed from remand on charges of dealing or possession of prohibited knives as defined in section 39 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Prosecutors had claimed that he had been searched on 24 August 2020 while at Harare Magistrates Court and found in possession of a knife. But Harare Magistrate Charity Maunga set him free after a State witness, who is a police officer failed appear in court to testify against Manjengwa.

Recently, Harare Magistrate Barbara Mateko exonerated Manjengwa, Blessed Changara and Barnabas Gura, who are also acquaintances of Hon. Sikhala by quashing charges of breaching national lockdown regulations pressed against them last year.

Manjengwa, Changara and Gura, who all reside in Harare were arrested on 3 September 2020 outside Harare Magistrates Court while following proceedings for Hon. Sikhala, who had been arrested and detained on charges of inciting public violence by urging people to participate during the 31 July 2020 protests. The trio was charged with unnecessary movement during the national lockdown as defined in section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020. But on Wednesday 2 June 2021, Magistrate Mateko upheld the trio’s application for exception and quashed the charge of violating national lockdown regulations.

Manjengwa, Changara and Gura, who are represented by Kossam Ncube of ZLHR, return to court on Friday 25 June 2021, where their trial on charges of possession of offensive weapons at a public gathering as defined in section 43(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act emanating from their arrest on 3 September 2020 is scheduled to commence.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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