BULAWAYO gay activist Ricky Nathanson (48) was yesterday placed off remand after his lawyer Tanaka Muganyi submitted that charges against him were not found in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act under which he is being charged.
Nathanson was arrested and charged with criminal nuisance for entering a ladies toilet at local hotel in Bulawayo last month.
However, Muganyi said there was nowhere in the section making it an offence for a male to enter a ladies toilet or the other way round. Nathanson of Barham Green in Bulawayo, who runs a modelling agency in the city, appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Abednico Ndebele dressed in a long multi-coloured short sleeved dress, cream high heeled shoes and holding a creamish-greyish handbag in a fully packed court gallery.
Nathason, who is transgender, is denying the criminal nuisance charges against him.
When he was called to the dock, prosecutor Raymond Makhaza immediately submitted that the matter be remanded to February 18, but Muganyi indicated his intention to apply for refusal of further remand.
“It is unfair for the accused to be further remanded. The State has not given any reasons for such further remand,” he argued.
“The State is very much aware that in the last remand, we opposed further remand and indicated that in the next remand (today) we will file an application for refusal of remand.
“We indicated that there was no evidence why the accused should be further remanded.”
Muganyi said the State was advised to put its house in order in connection with the charges laid against his client.
Muganyi said the State was failing to build a case against Nathanson because the charge of criminal nuisance against him was difficult to sustain.
“In the case it is clear that the facts of this matter do not disclose any offence,” he said.
“A further remand deprives accused of his freedom and that means one can no longer conduct business freely for no offence (and) it is unfair.
“Accused cannot be placed on remand for an unclear case.
“The facts on the case do not attach any offence to his conduct therefore I submit that he be placed off remand.”
The magistrate said he would like to understand from the State if it was an offence for a male to enter into a toilet for females.
“The matter has been brought to court and placing the accused off remand would be a slip of the justice system,” the State submitted.
“We are told that one of the witnesses is in Harare.
“So once the witness comes, we will have to deal with the case and the State still insists that the matter be remanded to February 18 despite the defence’s submissions.”
Ndebele ruled that it was not an offence for a man to enter a toilet for females or the other way round. He said the State would call him, whenever, it finds a case against Nathanson.
However, the ruling did not go down well with the complainant Farai Mteliso, a Zanu PF member who effected a citizen’s arrest on Nathanson at the Hotel last month.
Addressing journalists, Mteliso said the State claimed that he was in Harare yet he was in the court gallery. He said placing Nathanson off remand was like legalising homosexuality.
“The magistrate presides on a case of a man who comes into court wearing a dress, which obviously shows that he is practicing homosexuality,” Mteliso said.
“Do you think that if President (Robert) Mugabe was in this court that man would have come out of court?
“Just imagine how many women this man has seen naked by entering ladies toilets.
“I think he has even seen my wife’s nakedness since I usually go with her to drink at the Hotel.”