Four people facing charges of engaging in homosexual acts have been released by the Mwanza Residents Magistrates Court despite an affidavit submitted by prosecuting asking that court deny them bail.
‘‘The ruling has been made today, December 15, by the Principal Magistrate in Charge, Mr. Wilbert Chuma after agreeing with the argument by the defense lawyers Mashaka Tuguta, Ogastini Kulwa and Jebra Kambole that the arguments submitted by the prosecution are weak and baseless before the law,’‘ read the ruling.
The accused are Milembe Selemani, 35, and Janeth Shonza, a 25-year-old university student, who the state accuses of committing offenses of lesbianism when they fit engagement rings despite both being women.
The other defendants in the case are Ms. Aneth Mkuki, who is charged with facilitating the engagement while Mr. Richard Fabian faces cybercrime charges for the sharing the event’s video on social networks.
The prosecution had filed an affidavit asking the court not to grant bail to the accused on the grounds that they will interfere with the ongoing investigation process.
State attorney, Emmanuel Luvinga, also argued that if granted bail, the accused may be harmed by the public, which was grieved after watching their engagement ceremony video on social media platforms.
In his ruling, the magistrate told prosecution that court does not work on rumours and feelings.
‘’ The prosecution failed to clearly show how the public was grieved and who will actually be harmed if the accused were released on bail’‘ Chuma said.
All the accused were consequently released on bail after completing bail conditions of one surety to sign a bond of 6 million Tanzanian shillings ($2700). The case will come to mention on January 8, 2018.
Tanzanian president John Magufuli’s government has stepped up a crackdown against homosexuality since coming into power in 2015 and threatened in June to arrest and expel activists, as well as deregister all non-governmental organisations that campaign for gay rights.