High Court stops HIV transmission case

High Court Zimbabwe

THE High Court has stopped the prosecution of a Harare woman who is facing a charge of deliberately infecting her partner with HIV.

Lindiwe Ndhlovu was arrested in March 2022 and charged with deliberate transmission of HIV.

Ndhlovu, through her lawyer Paidamoyo Saurombe from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), filed an application for removal from further remand following the decriminalisation of wilful HIV transmission.

“High Court judge Justice Fatima Maxwell has stopped the prosecution of a Harare woman, who is on trial at Harare Magistrates Court on a charge of deliberate transmission of HIV as defined in section 79 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act,” the ZLHR said in a statement.

“On Tuesday, Justice Maxwell ordered that criminal proceedings against the 44-year-old Harare woman should be stopped pending the determination of an application for review of the decision by Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere, who insisted on proceeding with the trial of the woman on a charge which no longer exists as section 79 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was repealed after President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa signed the Marriages Amendment Bill decriminalising wilful transmission of HIV.”

Her lawyers argued that section 70(1)(1) of the Constitution provides that no person may be convicted of an act or omission that is no longer an offence.

They also argued that the law under which the woman was being charged was repealed.

In April 2022, Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa to fully repeal its HIV-specific criminal law after the Marriages Amendment Bill was signed into law.

Prior to the legislation’s passage, deliberate transmission of HIV attracted a sentence of up to 20 years in prison under section 79 of Zimbabwe’s Criminal Code.

The statute was, however, seldom enforced.

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