Senior Court Reporter
Organisers of the New Year’s eve music gig held in Mbare, Harare, have been convicted and are expected to be sentenced today amid submissions by the State to give them deterrent one-year jail terms, minimum, each.
Harare provincial magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro is presiding over the case.
The gig was organised by Damma, born Simbarashe Chanachimwe, Arnold Kamudyariwa (DJ Fantan) and Tafadzwa Kadzimwe (DJ Levelz), who admitted to violating Covid-19 regulations when they hosted the gig.
They were remanded in custody to today for sentencing.
The trio was being charged with “partaking and convening a public gathering during a national lockdown period”.
Chanachimwe was represented by lawyer Mr Tafadzwa Hungwe, while Kamudyariwa and Kadzimwe were represented by Mr Dumisani Mtombeni.
The three, during mitigation, apologised to the court and the nation at large for their actions and begged for leniency.
They told the court that they had resolved to complement Government efforts to fight Covid-19 by engaging the Ministry of Health and Child Care for possible ambassadorial roles.
Through their lawyers, Damma, DJ Fantan and DJ Levelz, begged the court to spare them custodial sentences and impose fines against them.
They told the court that the music show was planned for live streaming on various online social media sites, but got out of hand as residents thronged the venue where they were filming the event.
Chanachimwe, through his lawyer Mr Hungwe, told the court that he was a cellphone dealer earning about $15 000 a month and it was his first time to be arrested.
“Accused organised what was supposed to be an online event and his understanding was that he would stream for people less than 50 for the benefit of social media followers.
“During the show, unbeknown to him, neighbouring residents came when they were filming and crowded the venue.
“There was no cover charge as they did not anticipate such crowd. They did not put security in place as it was an online event. Because of the uninvited crowd, it was now called an illegal event which is now so-called Super Covid Spreader.
“The accused had no intentions to stage a show. It was an open air area in a high-density area. The accused had no resources to disperse the crowd. It was not the best of his ideas,” said Mr Hungwe.
Kamudyariwa and Kadzimwe, through lawyer Mr Mtombeni, said they do not earn a fixed income due to the nature of their work.
Mr Mtombeni said the two disc jockeys were typically struggling ghetto youths in Zimbabwe and were the face of youths in Mbare trying to earn a decent living through music.
He said the two surrendered themselves to police, contrary to reports that circulated on various media platforms that they were on the run.
“DJ Fantan and DJ Levelz are symbols of hope to ghetto youths and they play a positive role by advising youths to refrain from criminal activities and indulging in alcohol. They have lived crime-free in their entire lives. Accused persons are extremely remorseful and they have offered to the police, and the nation at large, their utmost sincere apology and they will continue to do so.
“They do admit and accept that they did not act in the best way possible as a result of their youthfulness. They have been of good character and standing,” said Mr Mtombeni.
He said they were thankful no one has tested positive for Covid-19 so far, or sustained injuries as a result of the event.
Mr Mtombeni reiterated that the accused wanted to be ambassadors against Covid-19 and complement Governments efforts in fighting the pandemic.
The State, led by Messrs Michael Reza and Taddy Kamuriwo, called for a stiffer penalty against the trio, adding the sentence should send a clear message to would-be offenders that no one would be allowed to dice with peoples’ lives.
“They were not worried about the curfew and invited people from 6pm to 6am. They invited 22 artistes to perform at event dubbed Super Covid Spreader at Damma’s shop.
“To ask the court to treat them with kid gloves is not possible when they deliberately invited people to gather where this disease is spread,” said Mr Reza.
He implored the court to invoke the principle of fire where he said he who touches it will be burnt indiscriminately.