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Juveniles Plead Not Guilty As School Protest Trial Kicks Off

Twenty-three juveniles have pleaded not guilty to charges of committing public violence by protesting against maladministration by authorities at Gokomere High School in Masvingo.

The 23 juveniles’ trial commenced on Tuesday 26 April 2022 before Masvingo Magistrate Farai Gwitima.

The juveniles, who completed their Ordinary Level studies early this year, were arrested on 7 November 2021 by some Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, who charged them with committing public violence as defined in Section 36(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

In court, Prosecutor Tarisai Muvengi told Magistrate Gwitima that the 23 former students protested against unsuitable learning conditions and sang some songs denouncing authorities at Gokomere High School alleging that they were selectively applying some disciplinary regulations on students.

Muvengi claimed that the students threw stones at the dining room and shuttered some window panes, windscreens and door panels of a Toyota Hilux vehicle owned by the school.

The prosecutor alleged that the value of the damaged property stood at US$1 500.

The former students, who are represented by Martin Mureri of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, return to court on Friday 6 May 2022, where Magistrate Gwitima will hand down a ruling on their application for discharge at the close of the prosecution case.

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Last year, Mureri complained that the students were severely assaulted by some ZRP officers who arrested them and were left nursing some injuries. But in response, the Officer Commanding Masvingo Province only identified as Assistant Commissioner Mbengwa, told Mureri that the pupils were injured because they were trying to evade arrest and that they were very violent.

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