THE Attorney-General (AG’s) Office is investigating complaints filed against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and other accomplices of unlawful arrest, detention and malicious prosecution of Masvingo Urban Ward 4 Councillor Godfrey Kurauone, who recently spent more than 40 days in prison before he was acquitted of charges of obstructing the free movement of traffic.
Kurauone, who serves as the National Organising Secretary for the MDC-Alliance political party’s Youth Assembly, was acquitted by Masvingo Magistrate Patience Madondo on 10 September 2020 after undergoing trial on charges of obstructing the free movement of traffic during an anti-government protest to demonstrate against rampant corruption.
He had been arrested on 31 July 2020 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged with obstructing or endangering the free movement of persons or traffic as defined in Section 38(c) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. During his trial at Masvingo Magistrates Court, prosecutors alleged that Kurauone blocked roads by putting stones and burnt tyres along Gaths Mine to Chirumanzu road for a stretch of 500 metres on 31 July.
Kurauone had also been charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly circulating a video on WhatsApp on 20 July 2020 showing him singing a song with lyrics which authorities deemed derogatory to President Mnangagwa.
But prosecutors later withdrew the criminal nuisance charge and prosecuted him over the charge of obstruction of free movement of persons and traffic of which Magistrate Madondo acquitted him after his lawyer Martin Mureri of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for discharge at the close of the prosecution case thereby ending his much publicised prison ordeal.
In a notice of intention to sue, which was recently served on Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi, Detective Constable Muonde, who arrested him and the Officer In Charge at Masvingo Central Police Station, Kurauone asked the respondents to take appropriate action in paying him RTGS$2.4 million as compensation for gross violation of his rights.
The Masvingo Urban Ward 4 Councillor charged that his arrest by some ZRP officers and prosecution by representatives of Hodzi was motivated by malice and improper motives.
In response to Kurauone’s lawsuit, a representative of Machaya only identified as Magunde, said the “matter is receiving attention” and promised to furnish Kurauone’s lawyers with a detailed response in “due course”.
Out of the RTGS$2.4 million that he is demanding, RTGS$500 000 is for damages for unlawful and wrongful arrest, RTGS$800 000 for unlawful and wrongful detention, RTGS$800 000 for malicious prosecution and RTGS$300 000 for legal expenses incurred while defending himself against the malicious allegations levelled against him.