Five protesters were yesterday each jailed five years after being found guilty of participating in a wave of demonstrations dubbed Shutdown Zimbabwe last month.
Simbarashe Nyamadzawo, 22, Gilbert Jasimoni, 34, Abisha Musakanda, 24, George Tomu, 26, and Danny Sere, 27, were convicted of public violence charges before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya and were each sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
A juvenile, 16, who was part of the gang, was sentenced to receive five strokes of the cane before the same court last week.
Mujaya suspended one-and-a-half years of the sentence leaving the protesters an effective three-and-a-half years behind bars.
In passing sentence Mujaya considered that the convicted persons were first offenders but said they had committed a very serious offence that could only be justified by a custodial sentence.
“Property was destroyed and public order and free movement of traffic disturbed at the instance of the accused persons,” Mujaya said.
“The accused persons even went on to attack police officers who attended the scenes and showed disregard of the law. They undermined the authority of the police. One of the police officers who testified in this trial sustained a visible scar on the face.”
The State proved that on January 14, this year Nyamadzawo, Jasimoni, Musakanda, Tomu, Sere and 300 accomplices who are still at large gathered at Kamunhu Shopping Centre in Mabvuku.
They were armed with catapults, sticks, logs and boulders intending to partake in shutdown demonstrations in their area. At around 8 that morning, the protesters barricaded roads in Mabvuku using boulders and blocked movement of traffic at Kamunhu Shopping Centre.
They barred public transport and private cars causing people to be stranded at the shopping centre.
The protesters proceeded to Choppies Supermarket and threw missiles damaging the shop windows and doors.
After gaining entry into Choppies they went on to loot groceries and various wares from the supermarket.
They also threw stones at other shops that had opened forcing them to close down.
Around 10 am police from Support Unit arrived at the scene and witnessed the protesters committing the offence.
They were arrested at the scene while accomplices fled in different directions.