By Robert Tapfumaneyi
A Mutare magistrate Tuesday acquitted two local residents Precious and Privilege Gwatidzo, who are twin sisters, after they stood trial on charges of unnecessary movement.
The violations were put in place last year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Precious and Privilege (30), had been on trial since 7 December 2020 before Magistrate Audrey Muzhingi.
They were arrested by police officers on 12 April 2020 in Mutare’s Dangamvura high-density suburb.
The twins stood accused of violating national lockdown regulations when they were found outside their home instead of confining themselves to their place of residence.
While detained in police cells, Precious and Privilege claimed they were harassed and denied access to sanitary wear by the cops.
During trial, prosecutor Chris Munyuki said police officers on patrol on the day enforcing the national lockdown regulations arrested the twin sisters after they failed to produce exemption letters authorising them to be walking in Dangamvura suburb.
Munyuki claimed that Precious and Privilege acted unlawfully by failing to produce exemption letters.
However, in their defence the Gwatidzo sisters, who were represented by Moses Chikomo from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), argued it was essential for them to move around sourcing for some prescribed medication at a pharmacy for their grandmother, who was chronically ill.
The twin sisters also argued when they were arrested they had in their possession a supporting letter from their local councillor confirming they had an ailing member of the family who needed urgent medication.
In July 2020, Mutare Magistrate Sheila Nazombe overturned the conviction of Precious and Privilege after Chikomo successfully challenged the decision by the police who ordered them to pay RTGS$500 each as fine for unnecessary movement during the national lockdown period.
Magistrate Nazombe then ordered the police to refund their fines before directing the law enforcement agents to compile a docket and bring the twin sisters to court for a proper hearing and determination of their matter.
This led to their acquittal by Magistrate Muzhingi this Tuesday.