Machisa, ZimRights acquitted

HARARE - State prosecutors were yesterday left with egg on their faces after Harare Magistrate Don Ndirowei acquitted two human rights campaigners charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State.

Magistrate Ndirowei acquitted Zimrights Director Okay Machisa, his workmate Leo Chamahwinya and ZimRights as an organisation, after their lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) applied for discharge at the close of the State case.

Human rights lawyer and ZLHR board member Trust Maanda, who represented ZimRights together with Selby Hwacha and Beatrice Mtetwa, said Magistrate Ndirowei freed the human rights activists after ruling that there was no evidence linking them to the commission of the alleged offence.

Chamahwinya was represented by Admire Rubaya.

The trial of Dorcas Shereni, a ZimRights official and two others Farai Bhani and Tatenda Chinaka  — who are accused of contravening Sections 31, 136 and 137 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly attempting to defraud the Registrar General’s Office by forging and manufacturing counterfeit copies of certificates of voter registration — continues next month after they were all put to their defence.

State prosecutors had alleged that Machisa, Chamahwinya and ZimRights created fake copies of voter registration certificates between May 2012 and January 2013 in a bid to defraud the Registrar General’s office.

The State claimed there was a possibility that the misrepresentation by Machisa and his fellow activists could cause “bloodshed or a chaotic situation in Zimbabwe” if the fake documents were only detected during the general election planned for later this year. — Legal Monitor

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