Prominent Zimbabwean anti-corruption journalist Hopewell Chin’ono has been acquitted by the High Court in Harare on an allegation of obstruction of the course of justice.
The case involved President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial niece, Henrietta Rushwaya, a notorious gold dealer.
Starting July 2020, Chin’ono was arrested and spent 45 days in jail; first on the case of allegedly inciting public violence, secondly on obstruction of the course of justice and thirdly for allegedly circulating a video that spread falsehoods.
But all the three “bogus” cases, as he called them, have been thrown out, leaving Chin’ono a free man. After the judgement, Chin’ono hit out at Mnangagwa’s government for brazenly abusing the state security apparatus and judicial system to punish dissenters Rhodesian-style.
He described his unjust and repressive imprisonment by government as “cruel” and “evil”. Said Chin’ono: “The High Court of Zimbabwe has dismissed the BOGUS charges against me in the Henrieta Rushwaya case, and also acquitted me today.
“The High Court also ordered that the State must pay my legal costs. “This ruling came after my legal team challenged Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa’s ruling that I must be tried by her although the charge was bogus.”
Chin’ono added: “I would like to thank my legal team that was led by Beatrice Mtetwa, assisted by Doug Coltart, Gift Mtisi and the
@ZLHRLawyers “This third acquittal in a row at the High Court proves what I have always said to the world, that I was a victim of political persecution by President Mnangagwa’s government for exposing corruption by his government and other players in his government.
“This latest acquittal came after I was arrested on November 3 2020, for exposing that the National Prosecution Authority had done a corrupt deal with Henrietta Rushwaya, to give her bail unopposed after she was caught trying to smuggle 6.7 kgs of Gold to Dubai.
“I was first arrested on July 20 2020, for exposing the looting of public funds meant for Covid-19, the regime lied that I had incited citizens to remove the government from power. I spent 45 days at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. I was arrested again for the second time on November 3 in 2020, for this case which was thrown out today.”
Chin’ono said he suffered badly while in jail for political reasons. “I spent 24 days in prison at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. I was arrested again for the third time on January 8, 2020, for something I didn’t do, and using a law that doesn’t exist. I spent 23 days in Chikurubi Maximum Prison,” he said.
“The case was thrown out again by the High Court. The idea was to send me to trial at the magistrates courts so that I get convicted and jailed.
“But each time my lawyers led by Beatrice Mtetwa were able to prove on review at the High Court that the charges were bogus! Without my lawyers and their ability to prove that these were bogus charges, I would have been in jail.
“I am eternally grateful to them and the long hours they put in over three years to get the bogus charges thrown out, and to get me acquitted on the three occasions.”
Taking no prisoners, Chin’ono tore into Mnangagwa and his regime for authoritarian repression and hounding critics, including journalists.
“To President Mnangagwa’s Government I say; The police, courts and the prison service are meant to maintain law and order and the rule of law, and not to punish and persecute critics, the opposition and journalists for doing their work,” he said.
“You wasted three years of my life persecuting me for doing my work as a journalist.
“It was EVIL and CRUEL for a government whose mandate should be to protect citizens, to instead become a predator to its own people.
“Today I am not celebrating, my life was messed up for three years, there is nothing to celebrate.
“We still have political prisoners like Job Sikhala and Jacob Ngarivhume wrongly jailed; they are being persecuted like what happened to me on three occasions!
“So there is nothing to celebrate when innocent citizens are in jail!
“Thank you to all Zimbabwean citizens and friends of Zimbabwe who stood up for me during this difficult time, and thank you to all African and global leaders that shared messages of solidarity publicly and privately.”
Concluded Chin’ono: “Lastly, I want to thank my family and friends who stood up for me, thank you.”