By A Correspondent: 11 nurses on Tuesday 29 September 2020 pleaded not guilty when their trial for allegedly contravening some national lockdown regulations during a protest over poor working conditions commenced.
The 11 nurses namely Ndadyei Gudza, Raikai Chibharo, Moses Sigauke, Michelle Magonye, Kumbirai Maiswa, Trish Chireka, Nyasha Kapesi, Evermay Chikoka, Lucas Sharara, Samson Gurupira and Laiza Magwizi denied contravening any national lockdown regulations when they allegedly gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare on Monday 6 July 2020 for a feedback meeting convened over a litany of grievances against government which is their employer.
Prosecutors told a Mbare Magistrate that the 11 nurses, who are all out of custody on RTGS$1 000 bail participated or convened a gathering knowing that such a gathering is prohibited in terms of section 5(3)(a) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID 19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment Regulations) National Lockdown) Order, 2020.
Prosecutors alleged that the 11 nurses who are employed at various medical centres including Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Chitungwiza Central Hospital and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital were part of about 100 people who gathered at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital intending to stage a demonstration and proceeded to sing protest songs and waved some placards in contravention of national lockdown regulations.
On Tuesday 29 September 2020, prosecutors led evidence from two
witnesses, who during cross examination by defence lawyers Rudo Bere
and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
disclosed that they apprehended the nurses after taking orders from
some unnamed superiors.
The 11 nurses return to court on 15 October 2020 when the Magistrate will hand down a ruling on their application for discharge at the close of the prosecution case.
Sigauke, who is one of the nurses, also faces a charge of incitement as defined in section 187 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, after he allegedly recorded a video while in police detention at Mbare Police Station and posted it on Facebook encouraging other nurses to come and join the detained nurses in demonstrating at Mbare Police Station.
The state alleges that Sigauke posted a message on Facebook which reads; “Ngatingouya tizadze camp tese tiite demo yedu tiri mu camp. Handiti ndimo munonzi muri illegal,” which if loosely translated means; “Let’s all gather at the police station and stage our demonstration.”
By posting such a message, prosecutors charged that Sigauke had incited nurses to gather at Mbare Police Station and demonstrate and cause violence.