Prosecution wants maximum sentence for Gwisai
By Tichaona Sibanda
University of Zimbabwe Lecturer and former MDC-T MP Munyaradzi Gwisai faces
up to 10 years in prison after state prosecutors asked for the maximum jail
Gwisai was on Monday found guilty of ‘conspiracy to incite public violence
with a view to overthrowing the unity government.’ He was convicted together
with Antoinette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo
and Welcome Zimuto. They now all face the prescribed maximum jail term.
The group was arrested in February last year, together with 39 other social
and human rights activists. Police claimed then that the group was plotting
to destabilise the government because they watched video footage of the
Egypt uprising. When they were initially arrested police accused the group
of treason, but downgraded the charges to inciting public violence.
Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama strongly opposed any custodial sentence or
community service. He however conceded to a fine, which would be about
US$500 per person. He told the court he will appeal against conviction for
all six, once sentence is passed.
The lawyer told the magistrate his clients did not commit any crime and had
been severely tortured by police after their arrest on 19th February 2011.
The police officers who tortured the six activists have not been brought to
The activists spent 27 days in prison before being granted bail, on
Dewa Mavhinga, acting director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said the
case is a direct message from a politicized and partisan justice system to
civil society about their intolerance for democracy, justice and freedom.
‘We reject that message of fear. It was encouraging that over 100 civil
society leaders and activists turned up at court in support and solidarity.
‘This political persecution of the six activists through prosecution is
testimony to how compromised our judicial system has become. Contrast this
persecution with the murders of over 200 MDC supporters during the 2008
elections whose murderers are still at large, seemingly beyond the reach of
the law,’ Mavhinga said.
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