Chivero boat crew acquitted on appeal

HARARE - Two of the three men who were jailed following the Chivero boat disaster that killed 11 children on Christmas day in 2011 have been acquitted by the High Court.

Fadil Ramon Weale and ?Joseph Abrahams were on Wednesday found not guilty after their lawyer Hamios Mukonoweshuro filed an appeal against Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe's ruling.

On their initial court appearance, the two were jointly charged with the boat owner Latif Ameer, who was acquitted after the trial, while another ?accomplice Enock Yolani Zulu was found guilty. Zulu did not appeal against his sentence.

The trio of Weale, Abrahams and Zulu was jailed for an effective five years after being found guilty of 11 counts of culpable homicide.

However, High Court judges Charles Hungwe and Susan Mavangira overturned the magistrates' court ruling.

The court said responsibilitylay with Zulu, who was the person in charge of the boat when it capsized.

“In the result, therefore, I find that the court a quo erred in failing to consider and apply the provisions of the Inland Shipping Act and the regulations made thereunder when it assessed the evidence during trial,” Hungwe said in a ruling that Mavangira agreed to.

“Had it done so, it would inevitably found that only the person in charge of the boat was criminally liable for this boating accident. That person is Zulu. The appellants were entitled to be found not guilty and to be acquitted.”

The incident took place on December 25, 2011 at Lake Chivero, when 11 children perished after a boat capsized.

The State said responsibility lay with the speed boat owner Ameer, the unlicensed boat driver, Zulu, and Weale and Abrahams, who were reportedly supervising the passengers.

The boat, which carries six passengers, was loaded with 17 people who were not provided with life savers, according to court papers. 

The boat sank in the middle of the lake, resulting in the death of the 11 children.

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