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Maseko makes application for referral to Supreme Court
MISA-Zimbabwe
September 16, 2010

Visual artist, Owen Maseko on 15 September 2010, made an application before Bulawayo Magistrate Ntombizodwa Mazhandu to have his case referred to the Supreme Court for determination on whether the criminalization of his artistic work was not a violation of his right to freedom of thought and expression.

In his application for referral, Maseko, represented by lawyer Lizwe Jamela, argued that it was necessary for the Supreme Court to make a determination on whether his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought as enshrined in Section 20 (1) and Section 19 (1), respectively, had been violated. Maseko further contended that as a result the action against him was in violation of his right to the full protection of the law as provided under Section 18 (1) of the Constitution.

However, Tawanda Zvekare representing the State opposed the application for referral. He argued that the rights in question were not absolute and were subject to certain exceptions under which they could be waived. He further noted that the case of Maseko was an example of the type of circumstances under which the exercise of the rights restricted.

Magistrate Mazhandu deferred the matter to 16 September 2010, after noting that she could only make a ruling on the application after having looked at the art exhibits in question.

Background

Maseko was arrested on 26 March 2010 initially on charges of violating Section 33 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act which alludes to insulting or undermining the authority of the president; the charge was then altered to Section 31 which deals with the publication of false statements prejudicial to the state.

However on appearing before the Magistrate on September 14, the State, represented by Tawanda Zvekare, again attempted to charge Maseko under the initial section 33 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.

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