Harare High Court judges Hungwe J and Wamambo J on Tuesday 2 October 2018 set aside the conviction of Patson Dzamara and Makomborero Haruziviishe.
Represented by Obey Shava a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the two activists had appealed against a decision of a Harare magistrate sitting at Harare Magistrates Courts on 29 June 2017.
ZLHR reported that Dzamara and Haruziviishe had been convicted of defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment of which 3 months were suspended for 5 years on condition of good behaviour and remaining 9 months imprisonment were suspended on condition that Dzamara and Haruziviishe perform 315 hours of community service.
Dzamara and Haruziviishe had completed 1 month of community service with the remaining 8 being suspended after the appeal was filed.
In setting aside the conviction and quashing the sentence, the High Court judges said:
• the police had not been civil in its approach of the matter;
• the context of the whole case pointed towards a political motive behind the arrest of Dzamara and Haruziviishe and that the court could not turn a blind eye to that aspect;
• the police wanted Dzamara and crew out of the Africa Unity Square at all costs or by hook or crook and this was not a bona fide arrest;
• when this incident occurred, the police was trying to arrest Dzamara and crew for an alleged robbery of two ladies but the state never proceeded to charge them with the said robbery.
The two ladies (victims of robbery) disappeared from the scene immediately after the arrest of Dzamara and Haruziviishe.
Therefore, the High Court could not ignore Dzamara’s version that these were trumped up and politically motivated charges.
It is in light of the above that the High Court allowed the appeal, set aside the conviction and quashed the sentence.