Transform Zimbabwe Leader Jacob Ngarivhume Acquitted by High Court After Eight Months in Prison
The High Court has overturned the conviction of Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume on charges of public violence, resulting in the nullification of his three-year jail term. Ngarivhume had been in prison for eight months before this latest development.
The charges against Ngarivhume originated from Twitter messages in July 2020, where he allegedly called for people to participate in public violence or join an illegal demonstration. Following his imprisonment in April of the same year, Ngarivhume sought recourse through the High Court by filing an appeal, and he had previously applied, albeit unsuccessfully, for bail pending the appeal.
In today’s proceedings, a two-judge panel comprised of Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Fatima Maxwell, sitting as an Appeals Court, granted Ngarivhume’s appeal. Professor Lovemore Madhuku represented Ngarivhume during the legal proceedings.
The lower court had initially sentenced Ngarivhume, asserting that the State had successfully demonstrated that his actions were intended to incite the public to engage in disastrous and violent behavior. The sentencing decision emphasized that only an effective prison term would serve as a deterrent against potential offenders, sending a strong message that violence was not tolerated.
The High Court, in allowing the appeal, recognized the arguments presented by Ngarivhume’s legal team, led by Professor Madhuku. The court’s decision marks a departure from the lower court’s perspective, acknowledging the need for a thorough review of the case.
During the trial, it was revealed that Ngarivhume, while in Harare’s city center, posted numerous messages on Twitter with the alleged intent of influencing people to participate in public violence or disruptive gatherings. Some of the messages mentioned consultations with various stakeholders, including Mr. Ian Makone, Dr. Shingi Munyeza, Mr. Elton Mangoma, and Godfrey Tsenengamu, as part of Ngarivhume’s efforts to mobilize people.