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Legal Monitor Issue 79
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

February 07, 2011

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Villager nailed for insulting Mugabe

A 65-year-old man is in trouble for allegedly calling President Robert Mugabe a dog. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) last week had to rescue Chakanetsa Murenga of Humbasha village under Chief Matope in Mt
Darwin, Mashonaland Central province, who is facing a charge of undermining the authority of or insulting President Mugabe.

His trial, which was set to begin on Friday for contravening Section 33 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 at Bindura Magistrates Court, was postponed to22 February.

This was after ZLHR lawyer, Jeremiah Bamu, asked to represent the 65-year-old Murenga, who initially had no legal representation. According to the State, Murenga last August uttered the words "Mugabe ngaabve pachigaro uye hatitongwe nekamunhu kachembera, imbwayemunhu," as he approached the homestead of a fellow villager, Stanley Humbasha.

The State argues that the statement, which prosecutors translated to mean: "Mugabe must step down from power, we cannot be ruled by an old person, he is a dog" was "either abusive or obscene" as it insulted the "President of the
Republic of Zimbabwe".

But Murenga says Humbasha fabricated the allegation.

On the charge sheet, the complainant is identified as "the State." "I did not insult or undermine the authority of the
President. I only went to the complainant's house to collect my money (which) he owed me after working for him. That is when he started to allege (sic) me of this," said Murenga in his warned and cautioned statement recorded at Mount Darwin police station.

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