Zimbabwean LGBTI rights group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) have scored a major victory, with the country’s High Court ruling that the group does not need to register with the government and that police must return property seized during raids on the group.
High Court Judge Priscillah Chigumba, today ordered that the Ministry of Home Affairs return the property that was seized from GALZ in a raid that was conducted by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in August of 2012.
On 23 August 2012 the Zimbabwe Republic Police had charged GALZ with running an unregistered organization in contravention of Zimbabwe’s Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Act.
Although the police indicated that they had not found anything pornographic or insulting of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in the documents, pamphlets and computers it seized during the raid they advised that they would not release the property until the case was over.
The lawyer representing GALZ, Tonderai Bhatasara, argued that police had no basis for the continued retention of the property and that GALZ is not required to register under the Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Act as its operations do not fall under the provisions of the act.
Justice Chigumba agreed and found that GALZ is not required to register under the PVO Act.
However the group’s co-chair Martha Tholanah is still being tried in a separate case before the Harare Magistrates Court on charges of doing just that.