Dangarembga, Barnes Seek To Overturn Conviction

Details of their appeal

By  | Oct 18, 2022, 11:27 AM  | Top of the

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More than a fortnight after Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga and journalist Julie Barnes were convicted by High Court Magistrate Barbra Mateko in Harare, their lawyer Chris Mhike, a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is back in court asking them to revoke the conviction. 

In her ruling on September 29, Barbra Mateko found Tsitsi and Julie Barnes guilty of ‘inciting public violence’ after the two held placards demanding reforms in the Borrowdale suburb, Harare, during a peaceful demonstration in June 2020.

She handed them a fine of ZWL70 000 each or three months imprisonment in case of a default. Additionally, their three months sentence was fully suspended for five years on the condition that each of them does not commit any offence involving participating in a public gathering with the intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry.
Tsitsi & Barnes holding placards during an anti-government protest in Harare

Now, Chris Mhike faults the Magistrate for her verdict. He filed the appeal on October 13 and has levelled several claims against Magistrate Barbra Mateko's ruling.

He argues that she failed to provide evidence that they intended to promote public violence. He also stated that Barbra Mateko failed to give an analysis of whether the words on the placards held during the protest were threatening or obscene. 

Further, Mhike pointed out that three state witnesses absolves Tsitsi and Barnes after they testified that their message was not obscene and threatening and thus they should have never been put on the defence.

In his appeal, he added that Barbra Mateko relied on speculation and demonstrated biasness against Tsitsi Dangarembga. As for their sentence, Mhike demands that the conviction should be lifted as it is disproportionate. Instead, he says Dangaremnbga and BARNES ought to be warned and discharged.  
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