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Two Zimbabweans charged with insulting Mnangagwa, set free

TWO Zimbabweans have been set free in court after facing prosecution on charges of undermining authority of or insulting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Kariba Magistrate Tendai Banda recently acquitted Vincent Chigwedere, who had been on trial since 2020, when he was arrested and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa as defined in Section 33(2)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

During trial, prosecutors alleged that Chigwedere, a resident of Hurungwe in Mashonaland West province, impaired the image of President Mnangagwa when he unlawfully and intentionally made an obscene and indecent statement concerning the ZANU PF party leader during a verbal altercation over a land ownership dispute.

But the 47-year-old Chigwedere, who was represented by Unite Saizi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was recently discharged at the close of the prosecution case by Magistrate Banda, who ruled that prosecutors had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

In Bindura, Magistrate Ruramai Chitumbura also set free Tinotenda Majuru, a Bindura resident who had been hauled to court on charges of undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa after he allegedly snatched beer and a ZANU PF party-branded cap from another resident at a local beer hall.

The 24-year-old Tinotenda Majuru, who is self-employed as a car washer at Chiwaridzo Business Centre, was accused of using some derogatory words in criticising President Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU PF party during a squabble with Samson Wazara while drinking beer.

Prosecutors alleged that Wazara, who was the complainant in the matter, was enjoying a cold pint of beer when Majuru surprisingly snatched a beer from him. They charged that Wazara allegedly ignored Majuru’s provocation and then proceeded to buy another pint of beer to quench his thirsty.

As Wazara was enjoying his second pint of beer, Majuru reportedly pounced again by snatching his ZANU PF party-branded base-ball cap from his head. It is alleged that Majuru then proceeded to utter some derogatory words in Shona criticising Wazara, President Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU PF party.

By so doing, prosecutors charged that Majuru acted unlawfully.

But Majuru was recently set free by Magistrate Chitumbura after his lawyer, Ernest Jena of ZLHR, challenged the prosecution of his client in the absence of a Certificate of Authority to Prosecute issued by the Prosecutor-General in terms of the law.

Magistrate Chitumbura removed Majuru from remand and directed prosecutors to proceed by summoning him to court if they intend to prosecute him and after obtaining the Certificate of Authority to Prosecute from the Prosecutor-General.