By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
05 February 2014
A Bulawayo magistrate has acquitted entrepreneur and transgender activist Ricky Nathanson, who was arrested last month for entering a female toilet at a city hotel.
Ricky, who has been officially living as a female for 12 years was ‘arrested’ at the Palace Hotel gardens by ZANU PF youths who had tried to solicit money from her.
The youths, led by Farai Mteliso, then handed Ricky over to the police who detained her overnight and charged her with criminal nuisance.
Delivering his ruling Tuesday, Magistrate Abednico Ndebele said prosecutors had failed to prove a crime had been committed and set Ricky free.
“It appears the State is still yet to decide on the charge, and according to what’s in court, there’s no offence in anyone entering a female or male toilet,” Ndebele said.
The magistrate refused to place Ricky on further remand and said the State could proceed by way of summons once the prosecution has put its house in order.
Sian Maseko, director at lobby group Sexual Rights Centre, said Ricky’s court case shows how the legal system is being used to harass those perceived to be different.
“The way Ricky has been treated is inhumane. The constitution guarantees equal rights and respect for the dignity of all citizens and we should all be affirming that,” Maseko told SW Radio Africa Wednesday.
Maseko said the case against Ricky had been unnecessary, a point also made by magistrate Ndebele who castigated the State for wasting the court’s time.
“As activists we hope all Zimbabweans will use this case as an opportunity for constructive dialogue on sexual orientation and gender identity so that we can end this culture of hate speech and intolerance,” Maseko added.