High Court overturns Goromonzi residents’ conviction for ‘Covid-19 vaccine research’

The High Court has quashed the convictions of three Goromonzi residents who were fined ZWL5,000 each last year for disorderly conduct when they allegedly protested coronavirus vaccine stock-outs at Chinyika Clinic .

The three residents of Goromonzi, namely 23-year-old Kudakwashe Parankinyu, 18-year-old Tanaka Zidoro and 21-year-old Tadiwanashe Gwena, were sentenced on November 12, 2021 by a Goromonzi magistrate after being tried for disorderly conduct such as defined in Section 4(a) and (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Parankinyu, Zidoro and Gwena had been arrested on July 9, 2021 while seeking coronavirus vaccinations at the Chinyika Clinic in Goromonzi by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, who accused them of acting as a way likely to cause a breach of public order. The arrest came after the trio allegedly behaved in an insulting, threatening and disorderly manner asking why there were no coronavirus vaccines in stock at Chinyika Clinic at a time when residents needed to be vaccinated.

During their trial, prosecutors claimed that the conduct of Parankinyu, Zidoro and Gwena terrified the doctors at Chinyika Clinic and crippled business.

But on Monday, May 16, 2022, High Court judges Judge Happias Zhou and Judge Benjamin Chikowero quashed their conviction and sentence and found the trio not guilty and acquitted them.

This came after their lawyer Tapiwa Muchineripi from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights appealed the conviction and sentence on the grounds that their conviction was wrong in law as prosecutors had presented no credible evidence to justify their conviction.

Muchineripi also argued that the magistrate rendered a decision based exclusively on the testimony of state witnesses to the complete exclusion of evidence given by the trio even during their defense.

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