11 May 2016
A ZIMBABWEAN court on Tuesday 10 May 2016 set free an opposition party supporter who had been on trial for allegedly insulting a police officer, who had taken offence after being referred to as a sellout.
35 year-old Sifelani Nyathi of Goromonzi District in Mashonaland East province had been on trial since Thursday 05 May 2016 after he was arrested on 19 February 2016 and charged with disorderly conduct as defined in Section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
Prosecutors claimed that Nyathi, who is employed by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party, unlawfully and intentionally engaged in a disorderly conduct using threatening words or behaving in an insulting manner to Tadios Ndazawana, a police officer, who was on patrol duty near Central Avenue and Sam Nunjoma Street in Harare and whom he allegedly accused of being a sellout.
Nyathi, who was reportedly drunk and sleeping on a pavement near the National Social Security Authority building in Harare, allegedly protested against Ndazawana, whom he accused of not being thankful as the opposition party supporter and his friends sometimes offers police officers free rides in their vehicles.
The prosecutors stated that despite warnings from Ndazawana, Nyathi responded by insulting the police officer and uttering the words “you policeman muri bablan mamero tinokutakurai mahara musina mari why do you bother me” which he kept on repeating to the law enforcement agent.
The State charged that by engaging in such conduct, Nyathi acted unlawfully and disorderly and had provoked a breach of peace in contravention of Section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
But Harare Magistrate Tilda Mazhande on Tuesday 10 May 2016 acquitted
Nyathi after his lawyer Sharon Hofisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for discharge at the close of the State case.
Magistrate Mazhande ruled that the State failed to bolster the evidence of its single witness.
The ruling by Magistrate Mazhande came after Hofisi argued that the State had not placed evidence to prove the essential elements of the offence during trial, which commenced on Thursday 05 May 2016 and that there was no evidence on which a reasonable court acting carefully could properly convict.
Hofisi also argued that the evidence adduced on behalf of the State was so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable court could safely act on it.
During trial, Ndazawana could not proffer a meaning for “bablan” and could also not explain the meaning of “mumero” and his attempt to link it to ‘language yemahwindi’ (the sarcastic language used by commuter omnibus crew to refer to police officers) could not be linked to allegations of being labeled as a sellout as indicated in the charge sheet.
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