Gutu – Two prominent MDC activists who were allegedly arrested by Police for wearing face masks inscribed with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s name have been acquitted by a Gutu magistrate.
Magistrate Mandlenkosi Ndhlovu dismissed the State case before going to full trial this morning. He said Police may have abused their power in the arrest of the two and depended on mere speculation.
“This case is like a boxing ring scenario where the law enforcement agents have an upper hand over their opponents before the match has even begun,” said Ndhlovu in the ruling.
He said that Police failed to establish a prima facie case against Charles Zvenyika and Edward Chagonda who were represented by Knowledge Mabvure of Chihambakwe Law Chambers and therefore the case was thrown out.
Magistrate Ndhlovu described statements by the arresting Police officers as inconsistent, contradictory and lacking the most crucial evidence to establish a case against the two.
He found out that Police arrested the two for touting but then went on to charge them for criminal nuisance. He said for one establish a prima facie case in a criminal nuisance case they Police needed members of the public who could come to court and testify that the two were indeed a nuisance.
“The State has not established the element of ‘annoyance to the public’ which is crucial to the successful conviction for criminal nuisance. The court cannot rely on the word of Police offices who were on a sting operation in the absence of independent eye-witnesses,” said the magistrate.
The two activists however, told the court that they were being arrested for wearing a mask inscribed Chamisa Chete Chete. They said the arresting officers told them that the law enforcement agent could not allow them to walk around with those masks.
In the case of Zvenyika, he was arrested and detained on several occasions in the past for being involved in MDC activities. He has a pending case in the courts where he lost three fingers when a Police officer banged a door against his hand at Gutu Police Station.
Zvenyika told The Mirror after the ruling that he was happy at the ruling as Police at Mpandawana is always targeting him. He said he spent almost a week behind bars for the trivial case which calls for a small fine.