Six Harare men were this Tuesday sentenced to 5 years imprisonment each for perpetrating wanton violence and looting of shops during last month's anti-government protests.
Simbarashe Nyamadzawo (22), Gilbert Jasimoni (34), Abisha Musakanda (24), George Tomu (26), and Danny Sere (27), all from Mabvuku, were sentenced by Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
Passing sentence, the magistrate said; "A fine or community service would trivialise the offence, as such a custodial sentence is appropriate.
"Protests should be peaceful. Why should one go and loot shops, barricade roads as well as attack the police?
"This (sentence) will send a clear message to would-be offenders; the court will send a message that such offences will not be tolerated.
"You created a mini war-zone (and) such (activities) drives away potential investors."
However, all five convicts will serve an effective 3 and half years behind bars after the rest of their sentences were conditionally suspended.
According to prosecutor Netsai Mushayabasa, the group - acting in common purpose with accomplices still at large - committed the offences on January 14 this year.
They gathered at Kamunhu Shopping Centre in Mabvuku at around 0800 hours armed with catapults, sticks, logs and boulders.
Court heard that they used boulders to barricade roads at the shopping centre thereby blocking the free movement of traffic.
They then proceeded to a Choppies supermarket where they damaged windows using missiles and looted some groceries, forcing other shops at the centre to close.
A ZRP Support Unit team reacted to the incident and managed to arrest the group.
According to the state, the group's actions caused the closure of businesses at Kamunhu Shopping Centre while a lot of buildings were destroyed with groceries looted.