Gwisai’s appeal: Judgment reserved

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International Socialist Organisation (ISO) co-ordinator Munyaradzi Gwisai’s judgment on his appeal against conviction and sentence on charges of conspiracy to commit public violence was yesterday reserved by justices Judge President George Chiweshe and Charles Hungwe after the activist’s lawyer made an application to amend his three-year-old appeal.

BY CHARLES LAITON

The judges said Gwisai’s main appeal, therefore, would then have to be postponed sine die (indefinitely) pending the determination on his application in which he has sought to amend the first appeal papers that he filed sometime in May 2012.

Through his lawyer, Aleck Muchadehama, Gwisai told the court that the amendment of his appeal would not change the context of his initial application, but merely seek to reduce the points into clear and concise paragraphs as opposed to many points referring to similar issues.

Muchadehama’s application, however, was opposed by State representative Editor Mavuto who argued that such an amendment would be contrary to the rules of the court, adding the application should be dismissed because there was no appeal at all before the court.

Last year, the Prosecutor-General’s Office’s attempt to have Gwisai and his co-accused persons’ sentence extended hit a snag after Justice Hungwe dismissed the State’s appeal for lack of merit.

Gwisai, a labour activist, was charged and convicted together with Antoinette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo and Welcome Zimuto, and eventually ordered to pay a fine and perform community service.

After the sentencing, the activists appealed to the High Court, leading to the current pending matter.

But aggrieved by the sentence, the State filed a counter-appeal application against the Magistrates’ Court sentence, arguing it was “too lenient”, which appeal was thrown away by the High Court.

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 want 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 dictators.