Dead baby tweet: Mahere appeals against conviction and sentence

Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere has filed an appeal at the High Court challenging her conviction on allegations of publishing falsehoods.

 Mahere was convicted and fined US$500 by Harare Magistrate Taurai Manuwere on April 5, 2023, after she tweeted that a police officer had fatally struck an infant strapped on its mother’s back with a baton.

She wants the High Court to set aside both her conviction and sentence.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who were representing Mahere during her trial through lawyer Chris Mhike, shared the development on their Twitter page.

“During trial, prosecutors alleged that Advocate Mahere, who was represented by Chris Mhike of ZLHR and David Drury, shared a message on Twitter, a famous microblogging platform, wherein she tweeted that a ZRP officer had beaten to death a baby that was strapped on its mother’s back, a claim which the State said was false,” ZLHR noted.

“Magistrate Manuwere acquitted Advocate Mahere of contravening section 31(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act but convicted her of contravening section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act for allegedly undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe.”

ZLHR highlighted that Section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act was declared void by the Constitutional Court and invalid by the High Court.  

“In her appeal, which was filed at Harare High Court on Monday 24 April 2023, Advocate Mahere argued that Magistrate Manuwere grossly erred and misdirected himself when after having accepted that section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was declared invalid under the former Constitution, he went on to arrive at a finding that the same provision was resuscitated or was validated by the coming into operation of the current Constitution and on account of the General Laws Amendment Act,” ZLHR said. 

“The constitutional lawyer charged that Magistrate Manuwere grossly erred & misdirected himself by completely ignoring the fact that she was targeted for prosecution & that her right and legitimate expectation to equality before the law was violated rendering the charge incompetent and invalid.

The US$500 fine, Advocate Mahere argued, is manifestly excessive and induces a sense of shock in that it militates against the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Advocate Mahere wants the High Court to allow her appeal & have her conviction and sentence set aside and substituted with being found not guilty and acquitted.”

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