By Darlington Gatsi
RENOWNED novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and pro-democracy campaigner Julie Barns have launched an appeal at the High Court challenging their recent conviction.
The two were earlier this month convicted for inciting public violence by Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko.
They were handed a wholly suspended six months jail term and ordered to pay ZW$70 000 fine each.
In their appeal, their lawyer Chris Mhike argued that the magistrate misdirected herself in finding his clients guilty.
He also submitted that there is no evidence linking the two to incitement of public violence.
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Mhike argued the sentence is heavy on his clients and they should have been cautioned.
“Mhike filed a notice and an appeal against both conviction and sentence of Dangarembga and Barnes at the High Court arguing that Magistrate Mateko fundamentally misdirected herself in finding the duo guilty in the absence of evidence linking them to participating in a public gathering with intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry,” said rights lawyers in a statement.
The charges that Dangarembga and Barnes were facing stem from a scheduled demonstration in July 2020.
The duo were spotted in Harare holding placards that read “We want better. Reform our institutions”.
Mhike accused Magistrate Mateko of exhibiting bias against the award winning novelist and pro-democracy campaigner by relying on some baseless speculation and conjecture regarding potential breach of peace through social media.
He also argued that the sentence imposed against Dangarembga and Barnes was disproportionate and induced a sense of shock.
The appeal is yet to be heard.