In a significant turn of events, the High Court has acquitted opposition Transform Zimbabwe party leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, of charges related to inciting public violence. Ngarivhume had been facing these charges after he called for nationwide anti-government protests in July 2020.
Ngarivhume had previously been convicted and sentenced to four years in prison by the Magistrate Court back in April, a sentence that had kept him incarcerated since then. However, the opposition leader was undeterred and decided to appeal both his conviction and sentence, seeking justice through the legal system.
The decision to overturn the conviction came on Monday, as High Court Judge Pisirayi Kwenda delivered the verdict, stating that the lower court’s conviction had to be quashed due to a lack of evidence presented by the State.
Judge Kwenda’s verdict was clear: “It would not be right to uphold the conviction. In the result, the appeal is allowed, and the conviction is quashed.”
Immediately following the acquittal, Ngarivhume’s lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, addressed the media, expressing his satisfaction with the outcome: “The High Court has set aside the conviction of Jacob Ngarivhume, so as we speak, he is now a very free man. They agreed with us in every respect that the Magistrates Court did not have a basis at all, so he had his eight months wasted, as we can say.”
Madhuku went on to highlight the key shortcomings in the prosecution’s case: “He is not guilty and is walking out a free man, so he will have his Christmas at home. They did not have any evidence linking our client to the Twitter account used, and also the court had to observe that the magistrate convicted him in respect of a Twitter account that was different from the Twitter account that the state was parading around, so the state did accept that they did not have any strong case.”
Ngarivhume’s acquittal has been seen as a significant victory for the opposition leader and his supporters, who have maintained his innocence throughout the legal proceedings. It also raises questions about the fairness and accuracy of the initial conviction and the evidence presented during the trial.
As Jacob Ngarivhume rejoins society as a free man, the political landscape in [Country Name] is likely to see new developments, with many eagerly watching to see how this development may impact the country’s political dynamics.