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forced to drop charges against Maseko but contemplates bringing
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
September 13, 2010
tormented Gukurahundi visual artist Owen Maseko on Monday 13 September
2010 secured victory when the State was forced to drop charges against
the artist when he appeared in court.
lawyers Lizwe Jamela, Nosimilo Chanaiwa and Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) successfully challenged an attempt
by State prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare to introduce a new charge against
the visual artist.
travelled all the away from Harare to prosecute in Maseko's
case at Tredgold Magistrates Court in Bulawayo sought to put a new
charge to Maseko, which is different from the one in respect of
which he was placed on remand.
Maseko was placed
on remand on charges of undermining the authority of or insulting
the President and causing offence to persons of a particular race
sought to bring in new charges of breaching Section 31 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 by allegedly
publishing or communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State
and an alternative charge of violating Section 33 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 by undermining the
authority of insulting the President.
lawyers objected to this, and argued that this was calculated to
prejudice and embarrass their client. The lawyers argued that Maseko
is on remand in respect of a particular charge, which has not been
disposed of and hence it is not legally tenable to have both charges
hanging over the artist's head.
that their client would not know which charge to prepare for under
the circumstances. The lawyers pointed out that there is no procedure
which allows the State to substitute a less serious charge for a
more serious charge.
In her ruling,
which was delivered Monday afternoon Magistrate Ntombizodwa Mazhandu
ruled that the State can only bring new charges against Maseko before
plea if the first charges have been withdrawn before plea.
Mazhandu's ruling the State withdrew the earlier charges and
sought to prefer the new charge against Maseko.
again objected to this, arguing that the charge on which Maseko
had initially been brought to court is no longer there and added
that if the State is to bring in new charges, it has to do so in
the proper manner.
the State undertook to facilitate the opening of a new record in
respect of the proposed new charge.
have prepared a warned and cautioned statement in respect of this
new charge, which will be officially signed on Tuesday 14 September
2010 at 09:00hrs. Thereafter, lawyers will proceed to view the exhibition
and obtain all exhibits sought to be produced by the State as well
as obtain witness statements.
trial on new charges is expected to commence on Wednesday 15 September
2010 after his lawyers would have prepared a defence outline.
Maseko was arrested
in March for staging an exhibition in Bulawayo depicting the 1980's
Matabeleland massacres carried out by troops loyal to President
Robert Mugabe's previous government. The exhibition, which
showcased paintings that explored the torture and massacres that
characterized the civil unrest known as Gukurahundi, was closed
when the artist was arrested.
government invoked the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act
to ban the exhibition of Maseko's paintings at the Bulawayo
National Art Gallery charging that they portrayed "the Gukurahundi
era as a tribal biased event."
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