A NYAMANDLOVU woman accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe was yesterday acquitted after the State conceded that she had no case to answer.
Jeritha Nkomo was being charged with contravening Section 33 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 after being arrested in December 2010 for allegedly describing agricultural inputs distributed under the president’s input scheme as “Mugabe’s filthy things”.
She was also accused of uttering vulgar words.
According to a statement by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the State was forced to climb down “in a case in which it had sought to use discredited insult laws to nail people accused of undermining the authority of or insulting Mugabe”.
“After pursuing Nkomo for close to three years on allegations that she insulted or undermined the authority of the president after she queried the partisan distribution of presidential agricultural inputs, the State on Wednesday 19 March 2014 finally conceded that it had no case at all,” the ZLHR statement read.
ZLHR said the State conceded that Nkomo had been erroneously charged and prosecuted for insulting Mugabe.
“The concession by the State becomes the third one in which the State has had to eat humble pie and admit that individuals had been wrongly charged and prosecuted for allegedly insulting the president,” the lawyers said.
“Tawanda Zhuwarara of ZLHR, who appeared for Nkomo during the hearing of her constitutional application, informed the Constitutional Court that after reading the record and the submissions filed in the matter, the State had a change of heart and realised that no offence had been committed.
“Zimbabwe police have been overzealous in arresting anyone who says anything about Mugabe and these erroneous prosecutions highlight the fact that the offence of insulting the president is not only abused by the police, but also misunderstood by prosecutors,” ZLHR added.