Nine human rights defenders will today know their fate after they were arrested and tried for allegedly carrying a miniature coffin during an anti-government protest demanding an increase to teachers’ salaries.
The nine HRDs, who include members of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) were arrested on 23 August 2019 and charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The nine HRDs namely Obert Masaraure, Gerald Tavengwa, Godfrey Chanda, Andrew Munguri, Nation Mudzitirwa, Shepherd Tazvivinga, Tryvine Musokeri, Simon Drury and Douglas Coltart, a human rights lawyer, were arrested at Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices in Harare during an anti-government protest dubbed “Pay Day Funeral”, where they allegedly gathered to “mourn the deaths” of their salaries, which they said were inadequate, poor working conditions and standards of living.
According to prosecutors, the nine HRDs, who are represented by Blessing Nyamaropa, Jeremiah Bamu and Tinomuda Shoko of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights allegedly interfered with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public by creating a nuisance or obstruction through singing and dancing while carrying a miniature coffin and a small wooden cross.
Harare Magistrate Rudo Mugwagwa is set to make a ruling today at 1415hrs on the "coffin trial" Our Cdes including @OMasaraure @DougColtart @NationMudzit are standing trial for carrying a miniature coffin to @MthuliNcube office on 23 August 2019, mourning tr salaries. Not guilty!
— ARTUZ (@ARTUZ_teachers) September 24, 2020