A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday 13 December 2017 set free Newsday journalist Kenneth Nyangani, who was being prosecuted for allegedly writing and publishing an article on the donation of some used undergarments reportedly sourced by former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
The 31-year-old Nyangani was arrested in October and charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46(2) (v) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 over a story published by Newsday, a local daily newspaper on the donation of some used undergarments reportedly sourced by the country’s former First Lady.
Newsday reported that Esau Mupfumi, a ZANU PF party legislator handed over the donation from Mugabe comprising of some used undergarments and night garbs to some ZANU PF party supporters at a meeting held in Mutare in Manicaland province.
According to the State, Mupfumi donated some “brand new goods” which were donated by Mugabe and these included some men’s boxer shorts, some pairs of sandals, some T-shirts and handbags.
Prosecutors claimed that by writing and publishing the story, Nyangani, who was represented by Passmore Nyakureba and Brian Majamanda of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, employed some means which are likely to interfere with ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public.
The State charged that the Newsday article caused ordinary discomfort, hurt and humiliation to Mupfumi and the ZANU PF supporters, who were the recipients of the donated goods.
But Mutare Magistrate Sekai Chiwundura on Wednesday 13 December 2017 removed Nyangani from remand and ordered the State to proceed by way of summons if it intends to prosecute the Newsday journalist, who had been out of custody on $200 bail.
The State wanted Nyangani to be remanded out of custody to 12 January 2018. But Majamanda, the journalist’s lawyer, filed an application for refusal of further remand arguing that he had appeared in court on five different occasions without being given a trial date.
Majamanda argued that placing Nyangani on remand would violate his right to personal liberty guaranteed in section 49(1) of the Constitution and of protection of the law provided under section 56(1) of the Constitution.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights