BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Seven Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Union (ZCTU) leaders, who were being charged for inciting the January public violence, were yesterday acquitted by a Harare magistrate at the close of the State case.
The seven – Peter Mutasa, the labour body’s president; Japhet Moyo, the secretary-general; Benice Maluleke, Prescilla Jonhi, Simon Mutasa, Munashe Chirovamari and Ezekiel Matema – were acquitted by magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, who said the State had failed to prove a case against them.
They were all represented by human rights lawyers Alec Muchadehama, Tinomuda Shoko and Kossam Ncube.
The labour body officials had pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying they did not commit any offence warranting their arrest and prosecution.
They also argued that there were insufficient grounds to link them to the offence.
The case related to their arrest on October 11 last year as the State sought to thwart an anti-government protest which the labour union was organising.
They were charged with committing public violence as defined in section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence and breaches of peace or bigotry.
Mutasa and Moyo are still facing other charges of seeking to subvert a constitutionally-elected government relating to the January fuel price hike protests.