Gomwe challenges conviction

HARARE - Ousted Zanu PF Harare youth league chairperson Godwin Gomwe has applied for permission to appeal against his conviction for criminal insult.

Gomwe was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment, which was wholly suspended on condition that he performs 70 hours community service at Budiriro Primary School.

His lawyers have lodged papers at the Court of Appeal.

A High Court judge will now decide if his appeal bid should progress to a full hearing.

He argued that the magistrate who handled his case misdirected himself.

Presiding magistrate Takunda Mutetwa found Gomwe guilty of criminal insult and contravening section 88 (c) of the Post and Telecommunications Act.

The appeal is being handled by advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba under the instruction of John Ndomene.

“The magistrate erred in respect of both counts by failing to analyse the evidence of each witness who testified, not making findings on the credibility of each of the witnesses, and not justifying why the version of the appellant was rejected in favour of State witnesses,” reads the notice.

“The court was misdirected in finding that appellant uttered the alleged offensive words to the complainants. There was no legal or factual basis to tilt the scales in favour of the State.”

Gomwe also sought to have his community service suspended pending the High Court’s determination.

The application was postponed to today because the prosecutor who handled the case was not available yesterday.

In passing sentence, magistrate Mutetwa said Gomwe had erred by insulting members of his party who looked up to him as their leader.

“The accused person will not go unpunished as this will give the impression that people can use offensive speech on others. I will agree with the State and commit the accused person to community service,” Mutetwa ruled.

Prosecutor Patience Chimusaru said Gomwe defied traditional values of respecting the elderly.

“The first complainant is old enough to be the convicted person’s mother. It was inappropriate that he insulted her in that manner in front of a huge crowd,” she said.

The first complainant Winnie Madekufamba claimed that Gomwe insulted her saying she was a witch and member of the Gamatox.

“During Zanu PF’s last annual congress, the accused person insulted me and told me that he was going to have sex with me and my goblins until we felt dizzy,” Madekufamba said.

“It was a great insult to be aligned to Gamatox considering how much I have sacrificed for my party.”

However, Gomwe’s lawyer said it was not possible that “Gamatox” was an insult because from his research, there was no legal definition that classified the word as an insult.

On the second count, it was proved that Gomwe called Abraham Samushonga and insulted him using “grossly-offensive speech.”

“The second complainant, who was his subordinate, also felt his ego bruised by being insulted in the midst of other men,” magistrate Mutetwa said.

“His moral blameworthiness is very high because at that time members of the party brought their grievances to the convicted person but instead he abused his position and ended up brushing with the law.”

Gomwe had denied the charges arguing that the complainants who were fellow party members were on a smear campaign against him.

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