Home » Judicial » Lack of Clarity of Law Is Defence – Chief Justice

CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has challenged lawyers to clarify the law to citizens and desist from just issuing the now common parlance- ‘ignorance of the law is not a defence’.

Chidyausiku said this during the Constitutional Court hearing into a case brought by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenging the constitutionality of some sections of the law which they argue criminalize HIV infection.

Section 79 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act says anyone who would have intentionally infected another person with HIV can be jailed for a maximum period of 20 years.

But the ZLHR appealed to the ConCourt after the conviction of two women on charges that they deliberately infected their sexual partners with HIV.

The two women are, however, out on bail pending their appeal against their convictions.

Responding to the submissions from the state which was represented by Editor Mavuto from the Prosecutor General’s office, before reserving his judgment on the case, Chidyausiku said the law should be clarified to the public.

“Lack of clarify of the law is a defence and the law has to be clarified to citizens,” he responded.

Aocate Thabani Mpofu, leading a team of lawyers who included, Lizwe Jamela,David Hofisi and Nelson Chamisa, had argued that the words which were in the law were vague and could not be understood by ordinary citizens.

He also highlighted that there was no much public awareness on what the law says about HIV infection.

But Mavuto answered him saying “ignorance of the law is not a defence,” leading to Chief Justice Chidyausiku’s interjection with the warning.

Aocate Mpofu argued that words such as ‘willfully’ and ‘intentionally’ infecting one’s partner with HIV as contained in the law were vague pleading that they needed to be explained.

Source : New Zimbabwe