Court tosses Tsitsi Dangarembga freedom bid, author put to her defence

HARARE – Celebrated film maker and author Tsitsi Dangarembga will next week stand trial on public violence incitement charges after a Harare magistrate Thursday dismissed her application for discharge at the close of the State’s case.

The artist is accused of incitement and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations after she and a neighbour defiantly staged a two-woman demonstration in Harare’s affluent Borrowdale suburb back July 31, 2020.

The day had been designated by opposition parties and civil society groups for street protests against unbridled high level corruption and a deepening economic crisis under the Zanu PF led government.

The protests were foiled by government which deployed heavy security to repel them.

But Dangarembgwa, once a member of former Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s now defunct MDC, put up a low key street protest which was however enough to invite trouble upon themselves.

The Booker Prize nominee and her co-accused will be back court next week to face trial.

In dismissing the duo’s bid to seek freedom before facing the court, Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko said facts building up the case were not denied, and as such, the two should proceed to defence hearing.

“It is the court’s view that the evidence before it is very clear,” Mateko said.

“The evidence proves that the accused were indeed holding placards on the day in question.

“This is also supported by their defence outline in which they state that they did not commit any offence but were only expressing their opinion.

“The witnesses contend the message that was intended by the two had a possible breach of peace.

“The state has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and the application for discharge be and is here by dismissed,” ruled the magistrate.

The matter was pushed to August 10 for trial continuation.

Speaking to journalists after court adjournment, the Mutoko born writer said she was disappointed by the outcome.

She insists there was nothing wrong in expressing herself in the manner that got her into trouble with authority.

“Zimbabweans have the right to demonstrate and if an issue arises and l feel it needs demonstrating, l will surely do it again,” she said.

The author said she was going to use the tough experience of her arrest and prosecution to strengthen her writing.

“I am a writer which is wonderful and everything that happens to me is a resource for my work.

“l am not disappointed that there is no support by the citizens; they are struggling on their daily basis of life.

“We cannot expect citizens to be coming to court to support everyone but however at the moment, we are urging youths to vote,” she said.

Dangarembga is represented by her attorney Chris Mhike.

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