SIXTEEN people who were facing public nuisance charges for staging a demonstration in Victoria Falls on July 6 have been acquitted.
Victoria Falls magistrate Ms Lindiwe Maphosa, who last week ruled that the 16 be put on their defence, yesterday said the State had failed to prove that they blocked traffic as alleged.
This was after defence lawyer Mr Thulani Nkala produced pictures and videos of the demonstrators carrying placards.
“The court finds that there is no evidence to show that the accused blocked the right lane of Livingstone Way as alleged. Videos presented as evidence show cars passing freely and there is nothing even in pictures to depict criminal nuisance,” said Ms Maphosa.
She said the State had failed to dispute the pictorial and video evidence.
“For accused persons to be found guilty of this offence, the State had to prove every essential element beyond reasonable doubt.
“In this case this hasn’t been done as I have indicated in the foregoing. I therefore find the accused persons not guilty. They are acquitted,” said the magistrate.
The 16 are: Bryrn Potter (23), Louse Doran (38), Daniel Connolly (31), Ephias Mambume (36), Kelly Varley (33), Nikki Blythe (30), Danielle Ponter (33), and Sarah Norton (50), Dustin Labuschagne (31), Mkhululi Nyoni (42), Raphael Moyo (33), Guy Cock-Croft (27), Lawrence Benjamin Norton (53), Japhet Tshuma (48), Shane Peel (21) and Marie Connolly (58). Blythe resides in Borrowdale Brooke in Harare while the rest are from Victoria Falls.
Mambume is the MDC-T Councillor for Victoria Falls Ward 6 while Varley is the daughter of MDC-T’s Victoria Falls Ward 1 Councillor Margaret Varley.
They had pleaded not guilty to the allegations arguing that they were only exercising their Constitutional right.
Clr Mambume spoke on behalf of the group and told the court that the demonstrators never blocked a road.
While the defence invited lawyer Mr Paul Connolly, who also witnessed the demonstration, to testify, the state led evidence from three police officers from Victoria Falls Police Station.
The three alleged that the 16 demonstrators disturbed traffic and prevented motorists from parking at a car park.
Initially the group was also charged with failing to give notice of a gathering to the regulating authority in terms of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) but the charges were quashed for lack of merit leaving only the alternative charge of criminal nuisance.
Mr Takunda Ndovorwi prosecuted.
Source: 16 Victoria Falls protestors acquitted (20/09/16)
Further: Australian demonstrators arrested at Victoria Falls Zimbabwe ()