Abel Zhakata Senior Reporter
TWO Mutare men have been jailed three years each while seven other suspects await judgment today (Friday) in connection with January 15 violent protests that rocked the eastern border city and surrounding areas.
Liberty Sithole (30), of House Number 397 SD, in Dangamvura was on Monday slapped with a three-year jail term for barricading roads in the high density suburb while Trymore Nyamaropa (31) was handed down a similar sentence for blocking roads in Palmerstone where he resides.
They all appeared before provincial magistrate Mrs Sekai Chiundura.
Mutare district public prosecutor Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira represented the State.
Seven others who allegedly caused mayhem in Mutare’s Central Business District will hear their judgement today following the closure of the defence case last week.
They are appearing before Mr Tendai Mahwe while Mr Last Goredema is prosecuting.
Mr Mutyasira said violent protesters, who destroyed property, blocked roads and forced factory closures thereby prejudicing the country millions of dollars in lost production, deserved lengthy jail terms.
While presenting his arguments in aggravation on Monday during Sithole’s trial, Mr Tirivanhu said the accused person’s actions were tantamount to economic sabotage.
He urged Mrs Chiundura to pass a harsher sentence in order to send the right signal to would-be offenders.
“The country was literally closed down by the actions of the accused person.
Factories were closed down. Peace loving Zimbabweans who did not want to take part in the violent protests were denied their rights to go to work and engage in their day to day activities. Because of the actions of the accused person the country lost millions of dollars because there was no production.
“This is a clear sign of economic sabotage and I urge the court to pass a harsher custodial sentence that will send the right message to all those who want to engage in violent activities of this nature,” said Mr Mutyasira.
Mrs Chiundura concurred with the State and slapped Sithole with a three-year prison sentence, setting aside 12 months on condition of good behaviour.
He was being charged for contravening Section 38 (c) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23 which criminalises the obstruction or endangering free movement of people or traffic.
The court heard that on the day in question around 6am, an informant saw some black smoke near the Islamic Mosque along Musikavanhu Drive and went there to investigate what was happening.
The informant saw the accused person, in the company of other suspects, burning some tyres and barricading the road by placing a shell of a broken down vehicle in the middle of the road.
Mr Tirivanhu said the suspect also went to Boka Shopping Centre where he also barricaded roads using stones and burning plastics.
The court further heard that the informant who was following the suspect from a distance also saw him putting some stones at the T-junction near Dangamvura High School.
Nyamaropa, of Number 6 Moody Road, Palmerstone was being represented by Mr Blessing Nyamaropa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Although he was denying the charges, the State led by Mr Mutyasira presented overwhelming evidence that warranted a conviction.
The court heard that on January 15 police officers were on deployment gathering evidence in the city centre when they received information that the suspect was putting stones along Josiah Tongogara Road in Palmerstone.
The cops swiftly reacted to the information and arrested the accused person while he was still placing the stones.
Of the 36 months sentence 12 months were set aside on condition of good behaviour.