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Zimbabwe Magistrate Sets Free NGO Leader Facing Charges of Inciting Violence


FILE - A pair of handcuffs and a key.

A magistrate has set free a Zimbabwean civic society leader who was facing charges of inciting public violence.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights ZLHR, Chitungwiza magistrate, Gladys Moyo, on Wednesday set free Alice Kuvheya, director of the Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) after ruling that the charges she faced of inciting some residents to commit public violence were defective.

Kuvheya was arrested on June 14 this year and charged with incitement to commit violence as defined in section 187(1)(a)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 36(1)(a)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The other charge which had been preferred upon arrest of incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence as defined in some sections of the the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was dropped in June 2021 after magistrate Isheanesu Matova removed her from remand after ruling that the statement she allegedly made had no effect of inviting anyone to gather for the purpose of committing an offence.

In court, prosecutors claimed that Kuvheya, who was represented by ZLHR’s Freddy Masarirevhu, communicated, persuaded and induced people to wage war between authorities at Chitungwiza Municipality and some Chitungwiza residents and some informal traders.

The prosecutors charged that Kuvheya recorded a video which she shared on social media platforms in a bid to incite residents and informal traders to resist a government backed exercise to demolish trading and vending stalls and structures.

Kuvheya’s alleged actions, prosecutors argued, would result in public disturbances and disorder.

Her lawyer on recently filed an application excepting to the charges preferred against her arguing that they are defective in the sense that the alleged offensive statements attributed to the CHITREST director do not constitute a criminal offence.

In a ruling handed down in Chitungwiza, Magistrate Moyo removed Kuvheya from remand after granting her application for exception to the charges and ruled that the charges lacked some particularities such that the offending part of a video which she allegedly recorded and circulated inciting people to wage war against authorities at Chitungwiza Municipality were not indicated.

Kuvheya’s arrest in June came soon after she together with CHITREST and Harare Residents Trust and represented by Rudo Bere of ZLHR, obtained a High Court order granted by Justice Edith Mushore on June 10, 2021, stopping local and central government from carrying out unprocedural demolitions of homes, perimeter walls and informal traders’ structures as the exercise was not in compliance with the law in particular section 32 of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act and section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act.

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