GALZ Alert: Tholanah Pleads Not Guilty As Trial Commences.

The trial of GALZ Chairperson, Martha Tholanah commenced on Monday 24 January 2014 before Magistrate Don Ndirowei. Tholanah pleaded not guilty to the charge of contravening Section 6 (1) (3) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act Chapter 17:05

The State alleged that Tholanah though with the knowledge that GALZ was not registered “unlawfully took part in the management of the organisation by gathering its members and continued to carry out activities while engaging in gays and lesbians activities” in contravention of the PVO Act.

Through her lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara of Mupanga Bhatasara Attorneys, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Martha asked the State to take exception to the High Court order granted to GALZ on 14 January 2014 by High Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba. The High Court Order also stated that GALZ is not obliged to register in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations Act [Chapter 17:05] as it is not a private voluntary organisation and is specifically exempted by the Act.

In her response the Prosecutor replied that she was not aware and was never served with the order therefore was requesting for time to respond adequately to the order. Tonderai Bhatasara argued that the State had summoned Martha indicating readiness to commence trial and that at the last remand hearing, the High Court order was furnished to the State. The Prosecutor insisted that postponing the case to the 26th of February would not prejudice the “accused” in anyway.

Magistrate Don Ndirowei postponed the matter to the 26th of February 2014 to allow the State to respond. //ENDS