FORMER Highfield legislator Munyaradzi Gwisai and five accomplices convicted for conspiring to commit public violence have appealed against their conviction and sentence. Gwisai, a University of Zimbabwe Law lecturer, together with Hopewell Gumbo (33), Welcome Zimuto (26) , Antoneta Choto (37), Tatenda Mombeyarara (30) and Edson Chakuma (39) were on Wednesday fined US$500 each and ordered to perform 420 hours of community service.
The six were arrested during a meeting at which they were watching video footage of mass uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia last year in the city centre.
Through their lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama the six argue that presiding magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Jarabini had erred in convicting them.
"The charge sheet did not clearly spell out which subsections of paragraphs of Section 188 and 36 the appellants contravened and for which the magistrate found them guilty as charged.
"Section 188 of the Act is unconstitutional and cannot reasonably be expected in a democratic society. It is in contravention of the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution," they submitted.
The group argues that the court erred in relying on the evidence of a dishonest witness (Detective Jonathan Shoko) who they said lied about his identity.
They also argued that videos of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings were shown to kill time and the magistrate erred in holding that they were shown to arouse feelings of hostility.
"The emphasis on the video by the magistrate was therefore totally misplaced and untoward hence the submission that the court was taking a subjective view of the facts and had descended into the arena.
"If the appellants were to be convicted for watching the video or showing it, and if that were a crime, as the magistrate held, then they were supposed to be convicted of treason," they argued. The six further argue that the magistrate was not acting judiciously or in accordance with the dictates and practice of judicial office. They argue that their sentence imposed by the trial magistrate imposes a sense of shock, outrage and horror.
"The learned magistrate imposed three sentences, a fine, imprisonment and community service, each one of them on the steep side."
The six are seeking an order for the conviction to be quashed and sentence imposed be set aside. They say in the event the conviction being upheld the sentence must be set aside and the six be ordered to pay US$500 (or 30 days.
The offence was committed on February 19 last year at Zimbabwe Labour Centre, at 43 Julius Nyerere Way in Harare. Gwisai, a co-ordinator of the International Socialist Organisation, and his accomplices agreed to forcibly and to a serious extent disturb peace, security or order of the public in Zimbabwe.
They planned to mobilise people to revolt against the Government and demand the resignation of President Mugabe in the manner Egyptians had deposed their president Hosni Mubarak.
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