Zimbabwe: Namatai Kwekweza Pleads Not Guilty As Trial Commences

2 December 2020

Two budding pro-democracy campaigners on Tuesday 1 December 2020 pleaded not guilty to charges of promoting public violence when their trial commenced before Harare Magistrate Vongai Muchuchutu-Guwuriro.

22 year-old Namatai Kwekweza and 23 year-old Esther Vongai Zimudzi denied accusations preferred against them of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace, or bigotry as defined in section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Kwekweza and Zimudzi, who are represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Rudo Bere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on Friday 19 June 2020 after they allegedly gathered at the New Government Complex in Harare, where

they intended to hand over a petition to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi in which they were protesting against the holding of some public hearings into proposed amendments to the Constitution.

Prosecutors claimed that Kwekweza, who is a member of WeLead Organisation for Young People and Zimudzi, who is a member of Section 20 Organisation and are currently out of prison custody on RTGS$3 000 bail each, displayed placards which read; "A senseless charade in the name of the Constitution Amendment No. 2 Bill public hearing---Minister you are out of order"; "!!!#Ngazvitangidzwe!!!"; "3.3 million Zimbabweans were consulted about the Constitution in 2013, 94.4% voted yes"; "Don't amend the Constitution until you consult 3.3 million Zimbabweans"; "#Stop cosmetic Constitutions" and "Don't take advantage of COVID-19".

The prosecutors, who led evidence from one witness Assistant Inspector Joram Mupona of ZRP, charged that Kwekweza and Zimudzi's actions were abusive, insulting and intended to provoke the breach of peace.

The two pro-democracy campaigners return to court on Friday 4 December 2020 for continuation of their trial, where two other State witnesses namely Constable Austin Muzvuve and Constable Rosemary Mutsure, who are both members of ZRP will give evidence against Kwekweza and Zimudzi.

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