TWO Mthwakazi Youth Leaders Joint Resolution (MYLJR) activists were yesterday convicted for organising a protest march against Zesa without police clearance and locked up in remand cells pending their sentence today.
Mqondisi Moyo and Busani Sibindi, who led residents last year in protests against Zesa moves to hire workers from outside Bulawayo, had denied the charges, but magistrate Crispen Mberewere convicted them after a full trial. Mberewere said it was clear that the evidence against the two was overwhelming after prosecutor Vivianah Chikomo submitted that the State had managed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Moyo and Sibindi committed the offence.
Chikomo said the fact that the two signed a petition and led the protestors in the march aggravated their offence. She submitted that they were first offenders who tried to exercise their right at the same time violating the laws.
“You are found guilty and you will be in custody today. Your sentence will be passed tomorrow (today),” Mberewere said.
The magistrate also accused their lawyer Dumisani Dube of acting like an activist when he indicated that the court was failing to recognise Moyo and Sibindi’s fundamental rights in dealing with the case.
The State indicated that on April 8 this year, Moyo and Sibindi organised a protest march against Zesa to petition the power utility over the employment of 300 people from outside Bulawayo at its Insukamini substation in Emgwanwini.
The protesters marched from Bellevue along the Plumtree-Bulawayo road and were arrested by cops from the Donnington Police Station.
Meanwhile Moyo, Sibindi and the other 21 protestors were acquitted of charges of being a criminal nuisance arising from the same demonstration.
Mberewere noted that the State had failed to prove its case.
“The State only depended on evidence from three police officers and no members of the public were called to testify against the accused persons,” he said.
“Police are not the public. So to say the demonstration affected the peace and caused hatred among the public is insufficient in this case. There is no evidence that the accused persons were shouting at anyone, but were only carrying flyers which unfortunately were carrying information which was in poor taste.”
The magistrate warned the residents to desist from carrying such flyers in future. Some of the offending placards read: “Zesa stop smuggling labour, it is illegal, Zesa management stop importing labour — stop discriminating.”
— Additional editing by Radio Dialogue