Mugabe ‘lies’ vendor set free

0
66
President-Robert-Mugabe

A BULAWAYO vendor accused of distributing flyers that claimed that President Robert Mugabe had lost control after the formation of the inclusive government was yesterday acquitted of the charges of spreading false information.

RICHARD MUPONDE
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

Simba Nyoka was initially issued with a warrant of arrest in July 2009 before he was remanded in custody last Friday. He appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushowe facing charges of communicating false information prejudicial to the State.

However, Nyoka was acquitted for lack of evidence to incriminate him after a full trial.

“The acquittal was on the basis of insufficient evidence led by the State,” a court official said. “There was no proof that he distributed the flyers.”

In his defence, Nyoka — who represented himself — said he was a vendor and the flyers were distributed close to where he was working.

The arresting officer had claimed that Nyoka had handed them the flyers, but there were no other witnesses called by the State to corroborate the claims. Some of the flyers read: “There were many in the international and local communities who are determined to destroy the all-inclusive government.

“The new agreement (Global Political Agreement) is not perfect (but) it will not last forever. In March 2010 the new law says we must have a new Constitution then we will have free and fair elections. Mugabe believes he is still in control; he is not; his time is up,” the flyers added.

At the time the flyers were allegedly distributed, Mugabe’s Zanu PF party was in the inclusive government with the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, then led by Arthur Mutambara.

The section used to charge Nyoka is among those that experts say should be repealed because they do not conform to the new Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression.

Other condemned laws include sections that criminalise insults against the president. A number of Zimbabweans have been brought before the courts for allegedly insulting Mugabe. But of late the courts have been acquitting the people for a number of reasons.

In March another Bulawayo man, Richard John Bloxham (41) of Suburbs, was acquitted for allegedly insulting or undermining the authority of Mugabe by allegedly confronting Zanu PF youths who had invaded a building he wanted to occupy.

Bulawayo magistrate Crispen Mberewere acquitted him due to lack of evidence. Mberewere indicated that the State failed to prove its case against Bloxham beyond reasonable doubt.

The Constitutional Court late last year made a landmark ruling noting that some sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act under which alleged Mugabe critics were being arrested and prosecuted, were unconstitutional.