|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) have welcomed acquittal of Ellen Chademana, arrested for 6 days last year on charges of dealing in drugs and possessing pornographic material, following a police raid at the organisation’s offices.
GALZ however raised concerns about the continued harassment of gays and lesbians by authorities in Robert Mugabe’s country, also notorious for his homophobic utterances against this minority group.
“The acquittal of Ellen is a victory for human rights defenders in Zimbabwe working on ensuring that the rights of minorities are protected despite the continued harassment and intimidation by police authorities in Zimbabwe”, GALZ said in a statement.
On 21 May last year Chademana was arrested for allegedly contravening section 26(1) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act (Chapter 10:04).
She was acquitted on all charges after the magistrate indicated that the state had failed to prove that she was in actual possession of the controversial photographs.
“It was a nightmare being in those filthy cells with no toilets no windows and no water to clean-up. I remember the first night when some police officers came to our cell and asked rudely “Mahure simukai mumire, mumutsetse” (all prostitutes stand in a queue). I remained seated, this did not go down well with the officer who came to me and asked why I had not heeded his call. I told him that I was not a sex worker. He got angry, started shouting and threatening me. It was not until another officer came to my rescue that he left”, Chademana recalled.
She however thanked all those who supported her during that period, “my friends and family and not forgetting all the organizations that have been there for me throughout this whole process.”
She further indicated her plans to take legal action against the police who detained her, “and those who searched my parent’s house without a warrant of search only to find that I will be found not guilty at the end”, She said.
Meanwhile, following an array of complaints around the constitution review process in Zimbabwe which many believe may not include protection of gay rights, with GALZ also arguing that it was not given an equal platform in the processes, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) is up in arms against the proposed constitution stating its process was not transparent.
“All stakeholders should have been well represented in the constitution making process so that the outcome is not politically driven”, NCA said in a statement.