By Farayi Machamire
A Police Tribunal in Harare yesterday sentenced a police officer to 10 days in prison for insulting former president Robert Mugabe, a decision likely to fuel criticism that authorities are undermining democracy and stifling free speech.
The court convicted Thompson Joseph Mloyie, a sergeant, for using abusive language against the former president after his arrest at Cranborne Police Station.
Court documents show that Mloyie contravened the Police Act by accusing Mugabe of being “too old to rule” the country and casting aspersions on his marriage to Grace Mugabe in 2016 during Mugabe’s reign.
Mugabe was toppled in soft coup last November. Mloyie had been on trial since January for allegedly contravening paragraph 35 of the Schedule of the Police Act (Chapter 11:10), that is, acting in an unbecoming manner prejudicial to discipline or reasonably likely to bring discredit to the Police Service.
During the trial, which was presided over by a superintendent Makunike at Harare Central Police Station, the ZRP claimed that Mloyie discredited the police when he was arrested on March 5, 2016 at Cranborne Police Station by cops.
He was charged with undermining the authority of or insulting the President in contravention of Section 33 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
Mloyie, who was represented by Jeremiah Bamu and Noble Chinhanu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was arrested
after he allegedly uttered the words: “President Mugabe achembera haachakwanisi kutonga nyika ino. Ndiye arikukonzera (sic) kutambura munyika ino uye akaroora hure
Grace Mugabe,” which the ZRP translated to mean “President Mugabe is too old and incapable of leading this country and is the cause of the suffering going on in this country and is married to a prostitute, Grace …”
The ZRP claimed that Mloyie was under the influence of alcohol when he uttered the alleged offensive words.
In passing sentence after first convicting the police officer, Makunike ordered Mloyie to spend 10 days in prison.
During the trial, the ZRP lined up two witnesses Stanley Makunda and Amos Muchenjero, who are all members of the police to testify against Mloyie. DailyNews