Thursday 29 September 2022


NOVELIST and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga and businesswoman Julie Barnes were today convicted and sentenced to nine months in prison each on a charge of inciting public violence.

They were alternatively fined $70 000 or three months imprisonment, while six months were wholly suspended on condition that they do not commit a  similar offence within five years.

Dangarembga and Barnes were arrested, while protesting against corruption and demanding the release of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was in prison at the time.

More than six witnesses testified in the matter, with most of them failing to say what the accused persons did that constituted an offence.

While dismissing the accused persons application for discharge, magistrate Barbara Mateko said the State managed to prove a case against them. “What was supposed to be established by the court is what the accused did on the day and it constituted a criminal offence.

“All elements of the offence were proved. The mere fact that there are contradictions does not mean their testimonies must be dismissed. In this case main factors did not differ, that the two demonstrated and had not sought any clearance to do so.”

“Considering the sequence of events, images tendered in court, evidence by journalists and witnesses clearly, the State managed to prove its prima facie case that the two intended to incite violence and the accused are found guilty as charged.”

In mitigation, the duo’s lawyer Chris Mhike said the court should take into account the time they underwent trial, and that they suffered inconveniences as a result.

Mhike also said Barnes was having physiotherapy sessions once in two weeks and was also on prescription.


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