BY TATENDA CHITAGU
A MASVINGO magistrate has acquitted Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure of violence charges but convicted the union’s provincial gender and welfare secretary Sheilla Chirisamhuru of a similar crime.
The two were arrested in June for participating in a demonstration demanding salaries in United States dollars at the Masvingo district education offices.
They were facing charges of “participating in a gathering with the intent to cause public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry.”
Chisirimhuru was arrested at the launch of the nationwide salary protests on June 22 this year while Masaraure handed himself over at Harare Central Police Station and was whisked to Masvingo by detectives on June 26, where he spent the night in cells.
They denied the charges and were out on $500 bail.
Magistrate Mbonisi Ndlovu acquitted Masaraure saying due to lack of incriminating evidence. The magistrate said it could not be proved that Masaraure was in Masvingo on the day in question.
In convicting Chirisamhuru, Ndlovu said the ARTUZ Masvingo provincial gender secretary was seen at the vicinity of the demonstration and more so she was a teacher and the protests were for teachers.
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Chirisamhuru will be sentenced on Monday.
The duo’s lawyer, Martin Mureri said he was going to appeal against both conviction and sentence.
“We are waiting for the sentence, so at the moment i cannot say much. All I can say is we are going to appeal against both sentence and conviction. Even if she was seen at the venue of the protest, section 59 of the constitution allows peaceful demos. That was a peaceful demonstration where people were just holding placards,” Mureri said.
Janet Muvavi prosecuted.