Lawyers representing four youths who were arrested for allegedly shouting “Mugabe must go” during the recent stay-away have applied for discharge after the witnesses failed to prove the case.
The accused, Alfred Dzirutwe, Mthokozisi Ncube, Robson Tera and Thembelihle Sibanda on Monday appeared before magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa facing criminal nuisance charges.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) legal representatives, Lison Ncube and Tamuka Muganyi, gave three police officers, who are witnesses in the case, a hard time in proving the case.
During cross-examination, the officers — an assistant inspector Admire Dona, Edmore Zingwe and Albina Tendai Mukashuri — were seemingly confused as they failed to substantiate the charges against the four.
Dona, the first State witness, told the court that he and other police details had arrested the four in the city centre after they found them allegedly writing placards inscribed “Mugabe must go”.
He said the four were part of a group of six that was reportedly also shouting “Mugabe must go” but two others escaped, and they had arrested them for staging an illegal demonstration.
Asked by Ncube whether he was aware that the Constitution under section 67 (1b) allowed people to demonstrate, Dona said he was not aware.
After being further quizzed which Mugabe the accused were referring to, Dona said he did not know.
When asked how the alleged shouting by the accused persons amounted to criminal nuisance, Dona said the shouting was disturbing the business community.
The second witness, Zingwe, said they were only four protesters whom the police arrested. He later contradicted himself and Dona when he said the police had found five protesters at the scene with one escaping.
Asked about the contradiction in the number of protesters whom they had found at the scene, Zingwe left the court in stitches when he stated that the two cops might have seen different figures.
Asked if he and his colleagues had any reasonable suspicion to arrest the accused persons, Zingwe surprisingly said they did not have any.
He also described criminal nuisance as shouting at the top of one’s voice and obstructing the public.
Quizzed on how the public was obstructed by the shouting, Zingwe said the public stopped and began listening to the shouting.
Zingwe also contradicted Dona who had earlier on stated that the protesters stopped shouting “Mugabe must go” at the intersection of Leopold Takawira Avenue and Fife Street when he said the protesters had continued to shout all the way to the Central Police Station.
Muchemwa is expected to make a ruling on the discharge application on July 29.