We are pleased to announce that on July 4, Cecillia Chimbiri and Joanah Mamombe were found not guilty of communicating falsehoods about their abduction and were acquitted by the High Court of Zimbabwe. Netsai Marova (who did not face trial as she is out of the country), Cecillia, and Joanah’s case was featured in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2022, a global campaign where hundreds of thousands of people across the world took action to support the case and show solidarity with the activists.
In May 2020, Cecillia, Joanah, and Netsai were arrested, forcibly disappeared, and tortured after protesting the government’s failure to provide social protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two days after their abduction, they were found abandoned in dire condition and rushed to the hospital. While they were seeking treatment, the activists were criminalized, prevented from speaking to journalists, and charged with intent to promote public violence and break of peace in violation of COVID-19 regulations. On June 10, after stating that they recognized some of their attackers, Cecillia, Joanah and Netsai were accused of faking their ordeal and charged with ‘publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state’.
In September 2022, Cecillia and Joanah’s lawyers applied for their acquittal, as the state did not present any evidence that the activists published falsehoods about their abduction. The application was dismissed by the magistrate court who argued that the state made a prima facie case, but their lawyers applied to the High Court to review the magistrate’s decision. On July 4, 2023, the High Court ruled that the two were not guilty and acquitted them. They also took note of the bias, and irrationality of the magistrate who had refused to acquit Cecillia and Joanah during the trial.
Cecillia and Joanah’s acquittal serves as a reminder that collective movements with clear visions have the power to ensure accountability within systems of oppression, while acts of solidarity inspire us to continue to plant and nurture seeds for a better world.
Let’s celebrate this win and build on it to ensure:
- The perpetrators who abducted and tortured the three activists are brought to account.
- Netsai is also acquitted of communicating falsehoods and obstructing the course of justice.
- The charges brought against them for protesting during the COVID-19 pandemic are immediately and unconditionally dropped.
Send a letter to the President of Zimbabwe to demand justice for Cecillia, Netsai, and Joanah