A ZIMBABWEAN court has absolved two villagers who had been on trial for allegedly tearing a political campaign poster belonging to a ZANU PF political party member.
Zephenia Nyangani and Learnmore Makuwaza, who reside in Mboto village in Mutasa District in Manicaland province and are members of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) political party, had been on trial after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers on 10 December 2022 and charged with destruction of political posters as defined in section 152(1) of the Electoral Act.
During trial, which commenced on 2 May 2023 at Mutasa Magistrates Court, prosecutors alleged that on 10 December 2022 at Madziro Open Tent in Hauna, the duo defaced posters belonging to Regina Barara, the ZANU PF political party candidate for a council by-election, by untying strings used to secure her posters and tearing the poster.
Nyangani and Makuwaza reportedly did this when they were affixing posters of the CCC political party candidate in Ward 6 after the seat became vacant following the death of the sitting Councillor.
However, Magistrate Artwell Sanyatwe recently discharged and acquitted Nyangani and Makuwaza at the close of the state case after their lawyer David Tandiri of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, applied for their discharge and having argued that prosecutors had failed to prove a prima facie case against the two villagers.
Tandiri also argued that state witnesses who testified during trial gave contradictory and inconsistent testimonies.
Magistrate Sanyatwe agreed with Tandiri’s arguments and ruled that one of the state witnesses had exonerated Nyangani and Makuwaza in the commission of the alleged offence.