THE Attorney-General (AG)’s bid to have International Socialist Organisation (ISO) co-ordinator Munyaradzi Gwisai and his five co-accused slapped with a stiffer penalty for conspirary to commit public violence, hit a snag last week after High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe dismissed the State’s appeal for lack of merit.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON SENIOR COURT REPORTER
In March last year, Harare magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini ordered Gwisai and his colleagues — Antoinette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo and Welcome Zimuto — to pay $500 fine or spend 10 months in prison following their conviction on charges of conspiracy to commit public violence.
In addition, they were each sentenced to 24 months in prison of which 12 months were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
The remaining 12 months were set aside on condition that each of the activists would perform 420 hours of community service.
The activists, however, appealed against the sentence and their appeal is still pending.
But the State filed a counter appeal, saying the sentence was too light.
The State argued that the activists were supposed to have received effective jail terms instead.
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“In my opinion, the test to be applied when considering an application for leave to appeal under Section 62 (1) of the Magistrates’ Court Act is whether the AG has a reasonable prospect of success on appeal. If he has, then leave to appeal should be granted.
“If he has not, the leave to appeal should be refused.
“Applying the above principles to the present application, I am satisfied that the AG’s appeal does not enjoy any prospect of success,” ruled Justice Hungwe.
He said the State’s application for leave to appeal was not timeously made as stipulated by the law.
He further said the AG’s grounds of appeal failed to encompass matters set out under the Magistrates Act.
Gwisai and his co-accused persons were arrested in February 2011, together with 44 other social and human rights activists, but the other 39 were later released for lack of evidence.
The State claimed then that the activists were plotting to destabilise the government after they watched video footages of uprisings in North Africa that saw the deposition of long-serving rulers.