The case against five student activists at Masvingo Polytechnic College, arrested last year on charges of assaulting their college principal and destroying an examinations office while protesting against a rise in tuition fees, was dropped last week for lack of evidence.
The five – Arnold Batirai (24), Zivanai Muzorodzi (23), Gamuchirai Mukura (22), Godfrey Kurauone (23) and Brighton Ramuzi (26) – were being charged with malicious damage to property and assault.
Defence lawyer Dumisani Hwacha applied for discharge at the close of the State’s case and magistrate Learnmore Mapiye granted the request on the grounds that the case lacked sufficient evidence for conviction.
In her ruling last week, Mapiye said the five were being framed for their involvement with the militant students’ body, Zinasu, which is widely perceived to be anti-Zanu PF.
The State had alleged that on May 28 2010, the five student activists assaulted college principal, Clover Nyamukapa with booted feet on the back and took his paperbag containing five buns, three packs of cold meat, a meat pie and a newspaper and shared the loot among themselves.
They later reportedly assaulted Moses Vunganayi (38), a security guard who had intervened and tried to restrain them.
Later, the group is reported to have broken the door and window panes to a room where examination papers were normally kept.
But, the students denied the charges arguing they were nowhere near the campus on the date cited in court papers.
The magistrate said: “Nyamukapa and Vunganayi differed in material aspects as the complainant said he had been assaulted by one person while Vunganayi said all had assaulted the college principal.
None of the witnesses managed to explain the peculiarities of the accused persons which made them identify them from the other students.
“The divergent versions of witnesses further makes the State case manifestly fabricated. There is no way two people who witnessed one event can proffer such divergent versions,” read part of the ruling.
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