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acquitted as State withdraws charges against WOZA and MEZA
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
May 11, 2011
Thobekile Mkhosana on Wednesday 11 May 2011 acquitted prominent
artist Styx Mhlanga, who had been on trial for allegedly suggesting
to a budding poet Magura Charumbira that the list of national heroes
would be incomplete without citing Joseph Msika, John Nkomo and
acquitted Mhlanga, also a film director based at the National Art
Gallery in Bulawayo at the close of the State case after the artist's
lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights (ZLHR) applied for discharge.
In their application
for discharge, Jamela and Chanayiwa argued that putting Mhlanga
on his defence is not proper as the State had failed to prove its
case beyond any reasonable doubt that the artist committed the offence.
said since the State had already closed its case no other evidence
would be brought forward and the evidence submitted in court falls
by the wayside in establishing a "prima facie" case.
Jamela and Chanayiwa
also argued that Mhlanga had in his defence outline denied the allegations
and stated that Charumbira was the one who was the aggressor in
the whole incident both verbally and physically after the artist
had merely passed a constructive criticism of the budding poet's
poem as he had come to the National Art Gallery seeking assistance.
been on trial since last month after he was charged with contravening
Section 89 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for assault.
alleged that Mhlanga, a younger brother to prominent Zimbabwean
playwright, actor and theatre director, Cont Mhlanga assaulted Charumbira
after he rejected his suggestion of slotting in and applauding some
heroes from Matabeleland, who had not been honoured by Charumbira
during the citation of his poem.
alleged that Charumbira visited an office at the National Art Gallery
to get inspiration and some advice from Mhlanga's colleague,
Sithandazile Dube, who shares offices with Mhlanga on 7 March.
commented saying Charumbira was supposed to also include heroes
like John Nkomo, Joseph Msika and Gibson Sibanda on his poem but
this did not go down well with the complainant resulting in an argument
with the accused exchanging harsh words.
alleged that Mhlanga, angered by Charumbira's refusal to take
his advice, picked up a stone sculpture and tried to hit the novice
poet but was restrained by Dube.
prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa on Wednesday 11 May 2011 withdrew
charges before plea against seven Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members Sitshiyiwe Ngwenya, Kholwani
Ndlovu, Moreblessings Dube and Joyce Ndebele, Selina Dube, Eneles
Dube and Janet Dube and three Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MEZA) members
namely Gift Ndlovu, Proud Pandeya and Noah Mapfumo.
of the charges came after a series of meetings and representations
made to the Attorney General's Office advising prosecutors
about a recent Supreme
Court ruling which declared as unlawful the imprisonment of
some WOZA members who had participated in a demonstration in 2008.
The WOZA and
MEZA members, who were arrested
in February and March at a time of commemorations to mark International
Women's Day were charged with contravening section 38 of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly obstructing
or endangering free movement of persons or traffic, contravening
Section 37of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act for allegedly
participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence,
breaches of the peace or bigotry.
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