A Zimbabwean court has acquitted three villagers, who had been on trial for allegedly insulting a traditional leader, whom they had allegedly denounced for disapproving their support to an opposition political party.
The three villagers namely Trymore Kutadzaushe, aged 34 years, Chipo Mushonga, aged 38 and Justine Mapfumo, aged 68 years, had been on trial on charges of disorderly conduct in a public place as defined in section 41(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors charged that the villagers, who live in Chimombe Village in Buhera North constituency, Manicaland province, provoked a breach of peace by insulting Causemore Chimombe, a traditional leader on 23 June 2017 by telling him that “We are tired of being intimidated. We no longer need to be oppressed. We are not bothered that someone is a Chief. With your age, can’t you see that you support what is useless? I cannot be forced to support a party which I do not like. We do not have a headman. Councillor, Chief, Member of Parliament and President”.
In their defence, the villagers, who were represented by Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, argued that Chimombe, who doubles up as a ZANU PF party youth leader in their village laid the disorderly conduct charges against them after he had been infuriated by seeing one of them wearing the opposition MDC-T political party regalia and expressed his reservations about support and activities conducted by the opposition party in the area of his jurisdiction.
Kutadzaushe, Mushonga and Mapfumo told the court that they only responded to Chimombe by telling him that he had no powers to order them not to support the MDC-T party.
In acquitting the trio, the court on Wednesday 31 October 2018 ruled that the state failed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt and that the words allegedly uttered by the villagers did not constitute a crime.