Zimbabwe: Court Sets Free Councillor Charged Over Anti-Sanctions March

28 November 2019

Marondera Magistrate Liberty Garakara on Thursday 28 November 2019 set free Charles Ngwena, the Councillor for Ward 4 in Marondera Central constituency, who was arrested last month and charged with undermining police authority for allegedly questioning Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)'s selective application of the law in prosecuting people.

Ngwena was arrested by some ZRP officers on Saturday 26 October 2019 together with Paul Chikuni, a municipal police officer employed by Marondera Municipality, and charged with undermining police authority as defined in Section 177(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act or alternatively with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in Section 184(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. However, Chikuni died early this month.

In court, prosecutors charged that Ngwena, who was represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, undermined police authority when he allegedly questioned why some ZRP officers were arresting vendors who were struggling to make ends and yet they were not bothered about apprehending President Emmerson Mnangagwawhose government organised an anti-sanctions protest in October.

Ngwena reportedly uttered the following words; "Mapurisa munopenga munosunga vanhu vanotambura endai munosunga Emmerson ari busy kuita ma anti sanctions" which was translated to mean "Police you are mad. You are arresting poor people. Go and arrest Emmerson who is organising anti-sanctions".

On the charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, prosecutors accused Ngwena of hindering three ZRP officers from executing their duties when he allegedly grabbed a pushcart containing some bananas and which belongs to Patrick Chabvata, a vendor and pushed it away.

The incident reportedly took place near Marondera Municipality offices as the ZRP officers were escorting Chabvata to Marondera Police Station after arresting him for illegal vending.

Prosecutors claimed that an altercation ensued between Ngwena and the three police officers and this attracted members of the public who gathered around the scene resulting in the law enforcements agents leaving the scene fearing for their safety.

But Magistrate Garakara on Thursday 28 November 2019 set free Ngwena, who was out of custody on $100 bail, after removing him from remand.

The Magistrate granted Ngwena's application for refusal of further remand after the State indicated that it was not ready for commencement of trial.

Magistrate Garakara ordered the State to proceed by issuing summons against Ngwena if it intends to prosecute him.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

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