Charges against eight WOZA members and two lawyers have been acquited. The ‘Valentine 10’ were initially removed off remand on 28th April 2009 but were then served with summons to re-appear in Harare Magistrate’s Court on 19 May 2009. The trial began immediately with state witnesses giving evidence. The matter was then adjourned to 28 May but Magistrate Moses Murendo ruled to acquit the activists. He even went further by telling the women to ‘go and buy more roses and to spread love’, leaving Prosecutor Ms Ngoma unable to secure a conviction.
The group of 10 had been arrested on 10th February after an early Valentine’s Day protest in Harare. They were facing charges under Section 37 1 a i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘disturbing the peace, security or order of the public’. They were represented by Andrew Makoni.
On the Thursday 14th May 2009 the ‘Education Five’ appeared in Harare Magistrate’s Court. Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, successfully applied to have them removed off remand. The state will have to proceed by way of summons if they wish to proceed. The human rights defenders were arrested on 25 February 2009 outside the Ministry of Education. The Education Five face the same charges of disturbing the peace, security or order of the public.
Supreme Court Judge Godfrey Chidyausiku heard the urgent order to suspend the trial of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu pending the outcome of an application under Section 24 (1) of the Constitution. He ruled to halt trial proceedings until a ruling on a constitutional matter has been handed down. The constitutional application will be heard on 4th June 2009 by the full bench of the Constitutional Court.
Justice Chidyausiku approved the draft order to grant Williams and Mahlangu the right to approach the court directly after Bulawayo Magistrate Msipa had ruled that a constitutional case was frivolous and vexations. The application was made in terms of Section 24 (1) of the Constitution – applicants can apply directly to the Supreme Court if they feel that they are still aggrieved.
The duo last appeared in court on 30 April 2009 and were remanded out of custody to 7th July 2009 to await the ruling from the Supreme Court. A copy of the urgent application and constitutional application can be found in the Legal Documents folder to the right.