Evan Mawarire acquitted

HARARE - #ThisFlag movement leader Evan Mawarire and a medical students’ leader, who were accused of promoting public violence, breach of peace or bigotry after they participated in a demonstration against fees hike at the University of Zimbabwe, have been acquitted.

The two were acquitted by the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday at the close of the State case, their lawyer Harrison Nkomo confirmed the development to the Daily News yesterday.

“He (Mawarire) has been acquitted at the close of the State case,” Nkomo said.

Allegations against Mawarire and Chihota were that following the publication of a circular by UZ authorities on June 26, 2017 to expel medical students from the campus for failing to pay fees, the two and other students hatched a plan to violently act against the development. The court heard that they organised and gathered medical students urging them to confront the vice chancellor Levi Nyagura in a bid to force him into retracting the implementation of the new tuition fees structure.

Mawarire, Chihota and other students had been accused of marching towards Nyagura’s office demonstrating while holding placards inscribed “fees must fall, my father is a teacher, tongoda (we just want) one percent of the $15 billion inokwana (it’s enough), my mother is a vendor, tohurira fees here? (Must we engage in prostitution to get fees?)”.

According to State papers the students became violent and pelted stones at UZ security personnel who tried to refrain them from demonstrating.

It was alleged that the students were later overpowered by security details using batons. At that moment, the courts heard Mawarire and Chihota were urging the students to act violently to force government and UZ to reverse their decision on fees.

The court heard that the police officers stormed the scene leading to Mawarire and Chihota’s arrest.

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