Abel Zhakata, Senior Reporter
VIOLENT protesters, who destroyed property, blocked roads and forced factory closures thereby prejudicing the country millions of dollars in lost production, deserve lengthy jail terms.
While presenting his arguments in aggravation during yesterday’s trial of a 28-year-old Mutare man, Liberty Sithole, who was subsequently slapped with a three-year jail sentence for causing mayhem during the illegal protests in Dangamvura high-density suburb, Mutare district public prosecutor, Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira said the accused person’s actions were tantamount to economic sabotage.
He urged the presiding provincial magistrate, Mrs Sekai 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.
Sithole who resides at Number 397 SD in Dangamvura was found guilty of barricading roads in the high density suburb on January 15.
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 at 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 T-junction near Dangamvura High School.