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Lauded Zimbabwean Novelist Found Guilty of Anti-Government Protest


Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga talks to the press after her court appearance in Harare, September 29, 2022.

Award-winning Zimbabwean novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga Thursday was convicted, alongside journalist Julie Barnes, for staging an anti-government protest.

Zimbabwean court officials settled a court case which involved award winning author Dangarembga and Barnes after passing a verdict which found the two guilty of participating in a public gathering with intent to incite public violence.

The women were accused of breaking COVID-19 protocols set by the southern African nation’s government, amid protesting in July 2020.

“The two intended to incite violence,” said Harare Magistrate Barbara Mateko, adding, “The accused are found guilty as charged.”

Zimbabwe award winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga and journalist Julie Barbes, prepare to enter the Harare court room amid inciting public violence charges, September 29, 2022
Zimbabwe award winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga and journalist Julie Barbes, prepare to enter the Harare court room amid inciting public violence charges, September 29, 2022

Court officials also said both Dangarembga and Barnes were ordered to pay a fine of $185 and received a suspended sentence on condition that they do not commit a similar offense anytime soon.

In response to the verdict passed against the award-winning novelist and the co-accused, human rights lawyers said they have witnessed the deployment of security forces to silence those speaking out against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

The lawyers add there have been reports of activists being arrested, abducted, and tortured by security forces, an allegation that government denies any participation.

Dangarembga maintains that she is innocent and adds that she has a right to peacefully demonstrate.

“I am not surprised by the verdict because we are in a situation where media freedom is not encouraged,” said Dangarembga, adding, “This means the space for freedom of expression is shrinking and is being criminalized.”

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