By-Election Incident Ends with Acquittal of Hakata

A ZIMBABWEAN court has acquitted a thirty four year-old man, who had been on trial on charges of disorderly conduct after he was arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers for trying to restrain law enforcement agents from assaulting a journalist.

Moses Hakata, a resident of Chitungwiza, was arrested by ZRP officers on 7 May 2022 and charged with disorderly conduct as defined in section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

During trial, prosecutor Monalisa Karemba alleged before Chitungwiza Magistrate Rumbidzai Kabasa, that Hakata behaved in a disorderly conduct while outside a polling station, during a by-election occasioned by the recall of Chitungwiza Mayor Lovemore Maiko held on 7 May 2022, where he reportedly told people to assault some ZRP officers and disregard their orders.

Hakata was also charged with incitement as defined in section 187 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act wherein he was accused of persuading or inducing people to assault police officers.

In his defence, Hakata, who was represented by Tapiwa Muchineripi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), argued that he was arrested while trying to remonstrate with ZRP officers on why they were manhandling and harassing Blessed Mhlanga, a journalist who was executing his professional duties of covering the water crisis in Chitungwiza.

On Tuesday 23 August 2022, Magistrate Kabasa found Hakata not guilty and acquitted him after ruling that it was not prudent to convict the Chitungwiza resident on the basis of the testimony of a single witness, Superintendent Kufakunesu Matsika, as the quality and credibility of the state’s evidence fell below the legal threshold of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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