ZLHR Rescues Toddler, Pregnant Woman, Detained over School Maladministration Protest

ZLHR Rescues Toddler, Pregnant Woman, Detained over School Maladministration Protest

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ZIMBABWEAN authorities have been forced to set free a toddler and a pregnant woman, whom they had detained together with some aggrieved villagers, who were charged for allegedly protesting against maladministration by some school authorities in Honde Valley, in Manicaland province.

On Wednesday 6 March 2024, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers detained a three-year-old toddler at Ruda Police Station in Honde Valley, together with Jennifer Sithole, the baby’s 58-year-old grandmother and Esther Kuseri, who was pregnant and four other villagers, who reside in Sagambe village in Mutasa District in Manicaland province, and charged them with disorderly conduct in a public place as defined in section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The ZRP officers accused Kuseri, Sithole and four other villagers namely Tafirenyika Boterere, Shadreck Manyange, Brighton Manyange and Noel Chikosa of masterminding a protest against Evans Mwaturura, the school head at Sagambe Primary School, who stands accused by some parents and guardians of presiding over maladministration at the school.

The villagers were also accused of stopping school children from attending lessons at Sagambe Primary School.

The allegations of maladministration had been raised during a School Development Committee (SDC) annual general meeting, which was held at Sagambe Primary School, where some parents intended to raise several concerns against Mwaturura.

The disgruntled parents had sought to engage officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and eventually a meeting was held with officials from the ministry in the presence of some ZRP officers from Ruda Police Station.

Kuseri was arrested during the meeting for allegedly raising her voice against an official at the consultation.

She was released from Ruda Police Station on Thursday 7 March 2024 after she paid an admission of guilt fine for disorderly conduct in a public place for contravening section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, following the intervention of human rights lawyer Tatenda Sigauke of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Kuseri opted to pay an admission of guilt fine for disorderly conduct in a public place because she was pregnant and the conditions of police detention were making her uncomfortable and she was not comfortable with the inconvenience of court processes considering her condition.

Chikosa who is the former SDC Chairperson at Sagambe Primary School, was separately charged with contravening section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry.

Chikosa was accused of being the one who had written a list of grievances levelled against Mwaturura, which had been presented at the meeting with officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

The three-year-old toddler and Sithole, Boterere, Manyange, Chikosa and Manyange, were only set free following the intervention of Sigauke on Friday 8 March 2024 at Mutasa Magistrates Court, where they had been hauled for their initial appearance.

Sigauke successfully argued with prosecutors from the National Prosecuting Authority against the placement of the villagers on remand and demanded that they be released immediately.

Prosecutors were left with no option but to assent to Sigauke’s request and this led to the release of the five villagers including the three year-old toddler.

Prosecutors stated that they would resort to summoning the villagers if they were to consider prosecuting them.

ENDS

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
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www.zlhr.org.zw

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