Three organisers of the illegal New Year’s eve music gig held in Mbare, Harare, were yesterday jailed for an effective six months for violating Covid-19 national lockdown regulations.
Harare provincial magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro had initially jailed Damma, born Simbarashe Chanachimwe, Arnold Kamudyariwa (DJ Fantan) and Tafadzwa Kadzimwe (DJ Levelz), to 12 months behind bars, but set aside six months of the jail term on condition they do not commit a similar offence within that period.
In passing sentence, Mrs Guwuriro said fining or committing the trio to perform unpaid work would trivialise the offence.
They were being charged with “partaking and convening a public gathering during a national lockdown period”.
The State, led by Messrs Michael Reza and Taddy Kamuriwo, had called for a stiffer penalty against the trio saying the sentence was supposed to send a clear message to would-be offenders.
Said Mr Reza: “They were not worried about the curfew and invited people from 6pm to 6am. They invited 22 artistes to perform at the event dubbed ‘Super Covid Spreader’ at Damma’s shop.
“To ask the court to treat them with kid gloves is not possible when they deliberately invited people to gather where this disease is spread.”
Mr Reza implored the court to invoke the principle of fire where he said he who touches it will be burnt indiscriminately.
The three, during mitigation, apologised to the court and the nation at large for their actions and begged for leniency.
They told the court that they had resolved to complement Government efforts to fight Covid-19 by engaging the Ministry of Health and Child Care for possible ambassadorial roles.
Through their lawyers, Damma, DJ Fantan and DJ Levelz, begged the court to spare them custodial sentences and impose fines against them.
They told the court that the music show was planned for live streaming on various online social media sites, but got out of hand as residents thronged the venue where they were filming the event.
Kamudyariwa and Kadzimwe, through lawyer Mr Dumisani Mtombeni, said they do not earn a fixed income due to the nature of their work.
Mr Mtombeni said the two disc jockeys were typically struggling ghetto youths in Zimbabwe and were the face of youths in Mbare trying to earn a decent living through music.
He said the two surrendered themselves to police, contrary to reports that circulated on various media platforms that they were on the run.
“DJ Fantan and DJ Levelz are symbols of hope to ghetto youths and they play a positive role by advising youths to refrain from criminal activities and indulging in alcohol. They have lived crime-free in their entire lives.
“Accused persons are extremely remorseful and they have offered to the police, and the nation at large, their utmost sincere apology and they will continue to do so.
“They do admit and accept that they did not act in the best way possible as a result of their youthfulness. They have been of good character and standing,” said Mr Mtombeni.