By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
Prosecutor General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi has filed an application challenging the decision by High Court Judge Justice Jester Charehwa to acquit award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono in a case he was accused of publishing falsehoods.
Chin’ono, 50, has been detained three times since he backed banned anti-government protests on social media, the 31st July protests against corruption, in July last year, when he was first arrested and charged with inciting public violence.
Two more tweets landed him back in jail for allegedly obstructing justice in November and then publishing false information, and charged with Section 31 (a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23), the section the High Court declared non-existent.
He spent an average of more than 20 days at the country’s biggest and most notorious jail, the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison before being released on bail by the High Court in Harare.
High Court Judge Justice Jester Charewa last month dismissed the latter charge, declaring it had no legal basis following arguments by the journalist’s lawyers that their client had been charged under a section of the criminal code that had been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2014.
But PG Hodzi has seemingly disagreed with the High Court ruling. He filed a court application for rescission of default judgement with the High Court dated May 5, citing that Section 31 (a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) was part of our law.
“In the matter Hopewell Chin’ono sought to be reviewed proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court wherein he had been placed on a charge of contravening section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23).
“Section 31 (a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) is still very much part of our law.
“In the former Constitution it offended the then provisions of section 20 of that Constitution. The advent of the new and current came with limitations to freedoms of expression and of the media as is provided for in section 61(5) of the current Constitution.
“For it to be declared invalid the Constitutional Court has to be petitioned again and the question of its validity interrogated vis a viz the provisions of section 61(5) of the current Constitution,” read the court papers seen by Nehanda Radio.
However, a defiant Chin’ono took to Twitter to point out that he was not afraid of being taken to the courts.
“Let them bring their bogus cases! I am not afraid of even getting convicted or getting killed by these scoundrels!
“Every political struggle needs folks who stand up for what is right, and are also NOT afraid to defend what’s right!
“Persecution brings more light to our issues!” Chin’ono said.
Meanwhile, in this case, Chin’ono was jailed for posting a video he claimed showed a police officer beating a baby to death, an allegation that was vehemently denied.
He was jointly charged with MDC Alliance top officials Fadzayi Mahere and Job Sikhala who are all out of custody on bail.
Since President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assumed power through a military coup in November 2017 that ousted late former president Robert Mugabe, his administration has increasingly been under-fire over gross human rights violations. Nehanda Radio