Chingwizi villagers seek to quash jail term

HARARE - Four Chingwizi villagers who were jailed five years each for burning police cars during a 2015 protest have approached the High Court seeking to have the jail term quashed.

The quartet — Mike Mudyanembwa, Patrick Chinounda Changwesha, Samuel Mubaiwa and Nyengeterai Tagwirei — argue that the magistrate erred in finding them guilty.

They were convicted by Chiredzi magistrate Honest Musiiwa in January 2015.

Their lawyer Sharon Hofisi from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights yesterday told the Daily News that the case has been postponed to June 6 to allow them to avail enough records for the prosecution of the appeal.

High Court judges Charles Hungwe and Edith Mushore are handling the appeal.

The four, who were residents at Chingwizi Transit Camp in Mwenezi, were convicted on public violence charges.

They were jointly charged with 26 others who were acquitted at the close of the State case due to lack of incriminating evidence.

The lawyers are now seeking the High Court to set aside their conviction and sentence.

The villagers were accused of masterminding the assault of police officers and the burning of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) motor vehicles and rifles. According to court papers, the villagers were arrested after they protested against the forced relocation of a clinic from Chingwizi Transit Camp to Nuanetsi Ranch, where thousands of flood victims had been forcibly moved to.

In their appeal, the Chingwizi villagers argued that the magistrate did not consider other forms of punishment applicable in the circumstances, adding that he was clearly under the belief that he was compelled to impose the maximum sentence of a jail term.

During their initial remand, the villagers claimed they were tortured and subjected to cruelty, degrading and inhuman treatment at the hands of Zimbabwe Republic Police members while in custody, in a move that attracted local, regional and international condemnation.

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