Ex-President Jailed in Zimbabwe
Associated Press, May 29, 2000
By Angus Shaw
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) Former President Canaan Banana lost an
appeal today of his conviction on sexual assault charges and gay sex offenses and was
ordered to serve a year in jail.
Banana, 64, was expected to report to prison later today, said his lawyer, Josephine
Banana was convicted in 1999 of 11 counts of sodomy and abusing his power to sexually
assault and carry out "unnatural acts" with men, most of whom were on his
Homosexual acts are illegal in Zimbabwe. Banana had appealed the convictions,
contending they violated privacy rights enshrined in Zimbabwes constitution.
The Supreme Court, Zimbabwes highest judicial body, announced today it would
uphold a High Court ruling that as titular president between 1980 and 1987 Banana abused
his power to coerce male staff members into sex.
Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay said Banana used "his immense superiority of status
to beat down the resistance of a young and inexperienced" police bodyguard whose
account of sexual assaults by Banana were "a horrifying tale."
Other staff members, including a cook and a gardener at his official residence, feared
Banana would have them arrested and even shot if they rejected his advances, the judge
Banana was ordered to serve a year in jail, with a second year suspended.
Banana, a veteran of President Robert Mugabes ruling party, could ask for
clemency, but it was unclear whether he would do so, Bennett said.
Banana served alongside Mugabe, who was then prime minister, as Zimbabwes
ceremonial president after independence in 1980. Mugabe became executive president in
1987, abolishing Bananas ceremonial post.
Banana was arrested after a former police bodyguard, Jefta Dube, whom he repeatedly
forced to have sex with him, shot dead a police colleague who taunted him as
"Bananas wife." Dube was jailed for 10 years for that murder.
Bananas trial in 1998 rocked the government and Mugabe, who has harshly condemned
homosexuals, calling them "lower than pigs and dogs."
Banana insists the case against him was influenced by political opponents.
Banana, a Methodist minister, professor of theology and former diplomat, mediated in an
armed rebellion in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s and in the Liberian civil war.
Zimbabwes five Supreme Court judges were divided over whether consensual sodomy
by homosexuals should remain illegal, Gubbay said.
Three of the judges took into account conservative African attitudes toward
homosexuality and ruled the law should remain in effect, he said.
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