High Court judges Justice Happias Zhou and Justice Benjamin Chikowero have overturned the conviction of three Goromonzi residents who were convicted of disorderly conduct by a Goromonzi Magistrate and fined ZWL$5 000 each.
The three men were arrested on 8 July 2021 after they allegedly protested over stockouts of coronavirus vaccines at Chinyika Clinic.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said in an HRDs Alert:
HIGH COURT OVERTURNS CONVICTION OF “COVID-19 VACCINE SEEKING” GOROMONZI RESIDENTS
THE High Court has overturned the conviction of three Goromonzi residents who were fined ZWL5 000 each last year for disorderly conduct when they allegedly protested over stockouts of coronavirus vaccines at Chinyika Clinic.
The three Goromonzi residents namely Kudakwashe Parankinyu aged 23, Tanaka Zidoro aged 18 and Tadiwanashe Gwena aged 21, were convicted on 12 November 2021 by a Goromonzi Magistrate after they stood trial on charges of disorderly conduct as defined in Section 4(a) and (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Parankinyu, Zidoro and Gwena had been arrested on 9 July 2021 as they sought to be vaccinated against coronavirus at Chinyika Clinic in Goromonzi by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, who accused them of acting in a manner likely to provoke a breach of peace.
The arrest came after the trio allegedly behaved in an insulting, threatening and disorderly manner by asking why there were no coronavirus vaccines in stock at Chinyika Clinic at a time when residents needed to be vaccinated.
During their trial, prosecutors claimed that Parankinyu, Zidoro and Gwena’s conduct terrified medical practitioners at Chinyika Clinic and brought business to a standstill.
But on Monday 16 May 2022, High Court Judges Justice Happias Zhou and Justice Benjamin Chikowero set aside their conviction and sentence and found the trio not guilty and acquitted them.
This came after their lawyer Tapiwa Muchineripi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights appealed against both conviction and sentence on the basis that their conviction was bad in law as prosecutors did not lead any credible evidence to justify their conviction.
Muchineripi also argued that the Magistrate came up with a decision exclusively based on the testimony of State witnesses to the total exclusion of evidence adduced by the trio even during their defence case.