A ZIMBABWEAN court has set free a 31-year-old Chivhu woman, who had been on trial on charges of contravening curfew regulations imposed by government in 2020 in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Enerty Chimedza, who works as a vendor in Chivhu in Mashonaland East province, had been on trial since April answering to charges of violating curfew as defined in Section 26E(2)(a) of Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020 as read with Section 2 of Statutory Instrument
214 of 2021.
During trial, prosecutors accused alleged that Chimedza, who was arrested at 1900 hours at Green Market in Chivhu on 21 August 2021, unlawfully and intentionally violated the national curfew restrictions by loitering in public in contravention of the set curfew period from
1830 hours to 0600 hours.
But an aggrieved Chimedza, who was represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, challenged her prosecution by filing an application excepting to the charges on the basis that the charges did not disclose an offence at law.
In the application, Chimedza argued that Statutory Instrument 200 of 2021 showed that Section 26 of the legislation does not have a subsection 2 and paragraph a. Furthermore, Section 26 of Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020 does not contain provisions dealing with the
curfew time but rather provides for the seizure of vehicles used to contravene the coronavirus regulations. Chimedza also argued that she was charged in terms of a non-existent law and that in terms of Section 25 of Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020, the curfew time was set from 2000 hours to 0600 hours hence she was arrested an hour before the scheduled curfew time, when people were restricted from moving around unnecessarily.
Chivhu Magistrate Henry Sande upheld Chimedza’s application for exception and ruled that the charge does not disclose an offence before acquitting her for contravening curfew regulations as had been alleged by prosecutors during trial.