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POSA claims 1st CSO victim

In a shocking and regrettable development, Kwekwe Magistrate Ms Stambiso  Ncube yesterday ( Tuesday the 23rd of October 2012) became the first Magitrate to convict a Civil Society activist of contravening the Public Order and Security Act ( POSA). Kwekwe based Young Human Rights Defender, Nkosilathi Moyo was convicted of contravening section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and   sentenced to 6 months imprisonment or $500 fine. Another 6 months was suspended on condition that Mr Moyo " does not commit a similar offence in the next five years €.

 

Speaking after paying the USD500.00 Nkosilathi alledged that his conviction had been made as a way of instilling fear in him and organised Civil Society in Kwekwe.

 

" Inyaya yekungo vhundutsirana ( It's a case of intimidation). There is also selective application of the law, ZANU PF, Chipangano nana Alshabab, vanoita ma meeting pavanodira vasingizivise mapurisa. Vangani vavo vakasungwa?

( ZANU PF's Chipangano and Alshaba ( youth militias) have meetings when ever they like. How many of them have been arrested.)

 

Moyo, who has had numerous brushes with Kwekwe Police and ZANU PF functionaries in Kwekwe because of his work, further stated that he saw the conviction as a way of curtailing his work with ZOYP.

 

I feel threatened and limited to do my work for ZOYP, the youth and my community at large, because of the suspended 6 months. Saka ndiri kufambira patambo, Jeri riri mugotsi mangu.   (So I am walking a tight rope, with the threat of a jail sentence breathing down my neck).

 

The conviction, was more shocking in light of the fact that, initially, Nkosilathi Moyo, had been co-accused with two other people, Maureen Gombakomba, and Beloved Chiweshe, both of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.   The 2 Crisis Staffers, were cleared of any wrong doing on the day of the initial arrest in November of 2011. In addition to the above, on June 13 2012, the State's Star Witeness,   Officer Commanding Kwekwe, failed to show up in court, prompting the Defense Lawyer, Mr. R. Chidawanyika of ZLHR to file for discharge.

 

Asked whether he had any intentions of appealing the conviction, Nkosilathi told the Crisis Report that he saw no point in doing so, because of the patently patisan nature of the Kwekwe courts. However, given the patently unjust nature of the conviction, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Director, Miss Irene Petras, told the Crisis Report, that they were looking at possibilities of advising their client to appeal, or look into the possibilities of a class action.

 

On learning about the Conviction, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson Thabani Nyoni said;

It is clear that POSA   continues to be an albatrose around our necks, which is consistently and continuosly used to close out public discursive space, and gag human rights defenders.

 

Commenting on the sentence, Nyoni added that,

 

We have noticed that there is trend emerging, where POSA cases last very long in courts, and the end is usually a suspended sentence or an " we will proceed by way of summons € type of ruling. These things are clearly calculated to ensure that our hands are tied and that we live in continous fear of being arrested or summoned back to the police or the courts. We have seen instances in the past, where the likes of Professor Madhuku, have been rearrested or summoned to Police Stations on issues that would have taken place 5 years earlier, simply because there is suspcion that at that time they would have been on the verge of demonstrating or doing something.

 

Nkosilathi Moyo was arrested on November 11 2011 for convenying a Civil Society Briefing Meeting on the CSO Road Map to Elections and Minimmum Conditions, subjects which the police deemed Political.

Moyo was represented during the trial by Mr Reginald Chidawanyika of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights(ZLHR), while Ms Ndamuka Chikuni represented the state.

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