via Malaba reprimands State | The Herald October 31, 2013
DEPUTY Chief Justice Luke Malaba yesterday reprimanded the State for arbitrarily arresting people who make disparaging remarks about the President in their drunken stupor.
He said by prosecuting people who make remarks in those circumstances, the State was actually contributing towards bringing the name of the President into disrepute.
Deputy Chief Justice Malaba said this yesterday during a Constitutional Court hearing in which Tendai Danga was challenging the constitutionality of Section 33 of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act after he was accused of insulting the office of the President.
The section deals with issues undermining the authority of or insulting the President.
It emerged that the said remarks that formed the basis of the charge were made during a beer drink.
“I think it is important that the name of the President is not just dragged here to the court unnecessarily. The Attorney General should be careful not to allow prosecution when a person says something in a bar, where people are just making statements while drunk,” said Deputy Chief Justice Malaba.
He said it was important for the Attorney General to discern the case before bringing people to courts.
Justice Malaba said the State risked soiling the name of the President by arbitrarily arresting people even if those statements are made during beerhall discussions.
The Constitutional Court went on to strike the case off the roll, saying the facts that formed its basis did not disclose a criminal offence.
Law officer, Mr Justin Uladi from the Attorney General’s Office conceded that the words complained of did not constitute an offence.
Representing Danga, who was charged under Criminal Codification, Advocate Zvikomborero Chadambuka had submitted that the charges were not sustainable.
It was the State’s case that Danda was drinking beer at Northend shopping centre in Bulawayo in 2011 when he made abusive, indecent or obscene words about or concerning the Head of State knowing them to be false.
Other judges who heard the case were Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Justices Bharat Patel, Paddington Garwe, Antonia Guvava, Anna-Mary Gowora, Ben Hlatshwayo, Elizabeth Gwaunza and Vernanda Ziyambi.