Zimbabwe: Hodzi Challenges Chin'ono's Acquittal

Prosecutor General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi has filed an application with the High Court challenging the decision by Justice Jesta Charehwa to acquit freelance journalist Hopewell Chin'ono in a case he was being accused of publishing falsehoods.

Chin'ono got into trouble with the law early this year after he allegedly shared on his Twitter a video of an agitated woman who was dragging a police operative by the collar accusing him of fatally striking her baby with a baton stick.

The journalist was charged with publishing falsehoods but Charehwa cleared him of any wrongdoing after finding Chin'ono had been charged under a piece of legislation that was struck off by the Constitutional Court back in 2014.

Hodzi deposed an affidavit through Fungai Isaac Nyahunzvi stating that he did not get a chance to respond to Chin'ono's appeal which was upheld.

"No opposing papers were filed on behalf of the second respondent, the matter was treated as unopposed and a default judgement was subsequently granted," he said.

Nyahunzvi said he had taken over the prosecution of an appeal in which Hodzi was appealing against the temporary release of Chin'ono's passport.

He said there was need for him to consult with his superiors on whether the Supreme Court appeal should be pursued since it had been overtaken by events.

Chin'ono had already returned the passport.

He said Chin'ono's application for review against the magistrate's decision placing him on remand came on March 23, 2020, the same date the Supreme Court appeal was supposed to be withdrawn and he ended up mixing the two cases.

"I then erroneously closed my file. It totally eclipsed my mind that I was then also supposed to attend to the application for review that is filing my opposing papers," he said.

Nyahunzvi said he only discovered his error when a default judgement was passed by Charehwa in favour of Chin'ono.

It is his submission that Chin'ono's application was set to flop because the Constitutional Court found it to be infringing, then, on the freedoms.

"As things stand, it is still a valid law of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

"For it to be declared invalid, the Constitutional Court has to be petitioned again and the question of its validity interrogated vis a vis the provisions of section 61(5) of the current Constitution," he said.

Nyahunzvi said hearing arguments from both parties also has the advantage of improving their jurisprudence, because he felt such cases should be decided on the facts and merits as opposed to technicality.

"This the applicant is of the view that had the matter been decided on the merits with both parties being heard, then the application for review would not have met any success," he said praying for an order reversing Charehwa's judgement.

The matter is yet to be heard.

More From: New Zimbabwe

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