A police constable accused of saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa has failed to govern Zimbabwe was fined $300 and slapped with a two-week detention by the police disciplinary court, his lawyer has said.
The 30-year-old cop, Taison Hove, who is stationed at Lupane Police Station, reportedly called for Mnangagwa to step down and pave way for opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to assume the presidency.
He is also accused of having said Zanu PF regalia emblazoned with Mnangagwa pictures were supposed to be worn by someone tending to an agricultural field.
According to his lawyer, Bruce Masamvu, Hove was convicted at a disciplinary hearing presided over by a Superintendent Mutepfe. Masamvu however said they were going to appeal to Commissioner General of Police Godwin Matanga against the ruling.
“Hove has been convicted at police trial and sentenced to 14 days in detention and ordered to pay a fine of $300. He was convicted for saying Mnangagwa has failed and ‘our salary is now equivalent to US$100 only’,” Masamvu was quoted as saying in the private press.
The now detained cop had, prior to the ruling, applied for discharge citing violation of his right to free expression and also argued that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against him.
His application for discharge was, however, dismissed by the disciplinary court which ruled that Hove should proceed to trial.
Hove was arrested at Lupane business centre on January 3, 2019, after he mocked a man putting on Zanu PF regalia emblazoned with Mnangagwa’s picture, saying such clothing could only be worn by someone going to tend to the field.
The cop was reported by some patrons to the police.
He was summoned by the prosecution to appear before the courts in early 2019, but the matter was placed on remand as the state was still waiting for the National Prosecuting Authority’s consent to begin trial.
Hove dismissed the allegations as frivolous and vexatious.
The latest developments come hard on the heels of a case in which another police officer was dragged before the courts of justice for likening the Zimbabwean strongman to a ‘used condom’.The officer Shungudzemoyo Kache is on $300 bail for the offence.
Statistics from the ZLHR indicates that around 20 citizens have been arrested on charges of insulting the Zimbabwe president since his controversial victory in harmonised elections held in 2018.
Harare is on record defending the increased arrests on citizens accused of insulting Mnangagwa and last month, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said if the insults amount to an offence from a legal viewpoint, the police is mandated to make arrests.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews