21 March 2012
Shock and Outrage at Conviction of the Zimbabwe Six
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is shocked and outraged at the conviction of six activists by Harare Regional Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini on the charge of conspiracy to commit public violence in contravention of section 188 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The six convicted activists are law lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai (44), anti-debt campaigner Hopewell Gumbo (32), Zimbabwe Labour Centre director Ms Antoneta Choto (36), student leader Welcome Zimuto (25), and social activists Eddson Chakuma (38) and Tatenda Mombeyarara (29).
The six activists were among 45 people arrested on the 19th of February in 2011, during a meeting where a video on the uprisings in Egypt was shown. The court ruled that the way in which the six watched the video of Egypt uprisings shows that they intended to engage in similar uprisings in Zimbabwe. Following their arrest, all six activists were severely tortured while in police custody and spent some 27 days in jail before being released on stringent bail conditions.
The conviction of the six is a serious indictment of Zimbabwe's judiciary. Over 200 MDC supporters were killed during the 2008 elections with little action from the police, and yet, only political grounds, six individuals are found guilty of conspiracy to commit public violence by watching a video. It is mind-boggling that the State prosecutor is pressing for the maximum penalty of ten years in prison for the six. Sentence is expected later today.
We call upon local and international civil society groups and activists to stand in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Six and demand their immediate and unconditional release. Political persecution must stop now. We demand a full restoration of the rule of law under the stewardship of an independent, professional and non-partisan judiciary.
For more information please contact:
- Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson, telephone: +263 712642932, email: