Tormented Villagers Relieved as NPA Withdraws Charges of Booing Mnangagwa

Tormented Villagers Relieved as NPA Withdraws Charges of Booing Mnangagwa

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ZIMBABWEAN authorities on Tuesday 16 April 2024 stopped the prosecution and formally withdrew charges against nine women from Watsomba in Manicaland province, who had been arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers last week and charged for allegedly insulting First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, following a nationwide uproar over the overzealous conduct of law enforcement agents, who arrested them.

On 10 April 2024, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrested the nine women and charged them for allegedly booing President Mnangagwa during her address at Watsomba Business Centre in Mutasa District in Manicaland province, where they reportedly failed to access some freebies, which she was doling out as part of her charitable work.

The nine women namely Nester Chatiwana aged 41 years, Panashe Machekanzondo aged 19 years, Winnet Sithole aged 19 years, Maria Choto aged 49 years, Esnath Choto aged 33 years, Ellen Rujuwa aged 28 years, Faith Chidhakwa aged 30 years, Patience Matasva aged 35 years and Joyce Mashingaidza aged 29 years, were arrested by ZRP officers on Wednesday 10 April 2024 at Watsomba Business Centre in Manicaland province and detained at Mutare Central Police Station, before being charged with disorderly conduct in a public place as defined in section 41(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

In court, prosecutors claimed that the nine women, who reside in various villages located near Watsomba Business Centre stood up and disrupted Mnangagwa’s delivery of her speech by booing her as a way of showing their disgruntlement for not receiving some groceries and clothes, which she was doling out to people.

Prosecutors charged that the women, who were seated on the ground stood up and started booing the First Lady while she was making her closing remarks during her address intending to disrupt her speech and show disgruntlement that they had not received anything from her.

The behaviour allegedly exhibited by Chatiwana, Machekanzondo, Sithole, Choto, Choto, Rujuwa, Chidhakwa, Matasva and Mashingaidza, prosecutors said, was unlawful, abusive and insulting to Mnangagwa.

The nine women, who were represented by Tatenda Sigauke and David Tandiri of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), and had been scheduled to return to court on 30 April 2024 for commencement of their trial, were set free on 16 April 2024 after they were rounded up from their homes and taken to appear at Mutare Magistrates Court, where the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) formally withdrew charges of disorderly conduct in a public place against them and they were then found not guilty and acquitted on the basis of the withdrawal of the charges.

ENDS

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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