State prosecutor pushes for maximum sentence in Gwisai case

State prosecutor Edmore Nyazemba is pushing for the imposition of the maximum sentence of 10 years in the case against Munyaradzi Gwisai and 5 other human rights activists despite the defense's submissions for a non- custodial sentence.

Responding to submissions by Muchadehama for the six activists to pay a USD500 fine each, Nyazemba referred to the activists as serious offenders who are likely to commit similar offences if given lighter sentences. In justifying his submissions, Nyazemba said, 'If you give the accused lighter sentences, it will send the wrong message to the world. It will not be unusual for the court to sentence the accused to the maximum sentence of 10 years.' He further stated that any lesser sentence 'will bring the criminal justice system to ridicule and prompt like- minded individuals to commit the same crime. We do not want to be caught sending the wrong message to the public.'

Nyazemba further exposed ZANU PF's fear of Zimbabweans' growing dissent to its 32 year hold on power by implying that the government should not be open to criticism. 'The existing authorities have been put in place by God and in the bible those who challenged their leaders were stoned', said Nyazemba before quoting Numbers 16 and Romans 13 much to the chagrin of more than 80 people who attended the mitigation.

In his response to Nyazemba, Muchadehama warned the state prosecutor against using the activists as 'sacrificial lambs' and criticised the suggestions by the

Prosecutor that the activists be stoned referring to stoning as 'an archaic and barbaric form of punishment'. The defence further submitted that the activists are being punished for questioning the authority of the government which is permissible in a democratic state. 'Governments can actually be removed even by peaceful protesters,' said Muchadehama.

Attempts by the Prosecution to apply for the commitment of the six activists ahead of their sentencing tomorrow, 21 March 2012 hit a brick wall with the Magistrate, Kudakwashe Jarabini insisting that this would pre- empt his judgement. Sentencing is expected at 1415 hours.

The developments witnessed clearly indicate that ZANU PF through the judiciary system is intent on making an example of the six pro- democracy advocates to deter dissent and criticism of the government. This, coupled with the continued incarceration of the Glen View 29 and the delay in granting them bail, is clear evidence of the prosecution by persecution of pro- democracy advocates by the ZANU PF controlled government.


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