Thursday 15 June 2023


Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume will prosecute his appeal against public violence conviction and a three-year jail term while behind bars after the High Court overruled his application for bail pending appeal.

 The politician is appealing against both conviction and sentence for inciting public violence arising from Twitter messages where he called for people to engage in public violence or join an illegal demonstration in July 2020.

 He approached the High Court seeking bail pending appeal but Justice Benjamin Chikowero threw out the application. The judge ruled that there are no reasonable prospects of success in the appeal against conviction. And while Ngarivhume had prospects of success on sentence the judge still thought he would servce a considerable period of time in jail.

“This is not a matter where the imposition of bail conditions is decisive,” said Justice Chikowero. “On appeal, the applicant is likely to be required to serve some custodial sentence.”

 In this regard, the judge took the view that Ngarivhume’s admission to bail endangers the interest of justice in that fear of resumed incarceration would induce him to skip bail.

“It is in the interest of the administration of justice that he prosecutes his appeal while serving his sentence,” he said. “In the result, the application for bail pending appeal against the conviction and sentence be and is hereby dismissed.”

The trial magistrate had found that Ngarivhume had made the Twitter posts, and the content met the criteria required by the charge.

Ngarivhume had initially on arrest agreed he had posted the tweets, but said his posts were protected by the Constitutional right of free speech. Later in court, he had argued that the Twitter handle had never belonged to him.

In her ruling, Harare magistrate Mrs Feresi Chakanyuka found that the prosecution managed to prove the case against Ngarivhume.

The State proved that Ngarivhume, through his actions, wanted or meant to incite the public to act in a disastrous and violent manner, said the magistrate. She ruled that only an effective prison term would send a strong message to likely offenders that violence was frowned upon.

Mrs Chakanyuka, in her decision, was guided by the criminal laws of the country as to the sentence because once convicted of inciting members of the public to commit a crime, the accused had to be sentenced in accordance with the law and precedent.

During trial, the court heard that while in Harare’s city centre, Ngarivhume posted numerous messages on Twitter in an attempt to influence many people to engage in public violence or participate in a gathering that would disturb peace.

In some of the messages, Ngarivhume said he had met and consulted other stakeholders including Mr Ian Makone, Dr Shingi Munyeza, Mr Elton Mangoma and Godfrey Tsenengamu, as part of his efforts to mobilise people. Herald: 


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