Ellen Chademana

Ellen Chademana, the receptionist at Zimbabwe’s LGBT rights group, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), has been acquitted of the possession of pornography.

In July, Ignatius Muhambi, another GALZ employee who was tried separately, was acquitted of the same charge of possessing pornographic pictures.

“I’m free finally, I have been acquitted today,” exclaimed Chademana on Facebook after the verdict was handed down by Magistrate Ndirowei on Thursday in Harare. She also confirmed that her passport had been returned to her by the authorities.

According to the court, the state was unable to prove that two allegedly pornographic pictures found by the police in a folder in a cabinet during a raid on the GALZ office in May were in her possession.

“It was clear that the cabinet was accessible to all staff and therefore difficult for the court to conclude [that Chademana was in possession of the photos],” Ndorowei said.

During the trial, Chademana testified that she was not even present during the raid. She also insisted that she had not been aware of the folder’s contents.

Activists say that the raid and subsequent arrests are examples of official harassment against the LGBT community in Zimbabwe where homosexuality remains illegal – with penalties including jail-time.

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