To consolidate and amend the criminal law of Zimbabwe; to amend the Interpretation Act [Chapter 1:01], the Burial and Cremation Act [Chapter 5:03], the Customary Marriages Act [Chapter 5:07], the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11], the Magistrates Court Act [Chapter 7:10], and the Prisons Act [Chapter 7:11]; to repeal the Aircraft (Offences) Act [Chapter 9:01] and the Concealment of Birth Act [Chapter 9:04]; to amend the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07]; to repeal Infanticide Act [Chapter 9:12] and the Miscellaneous Offences Act [Chapter 9:15]; to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act [Chapter 9:16], and the Stock Theft Act [Chapter 9:18]; to repeal the Witchcraft Suppression Act [Chapter 9:19] and the Sexual Offences Act [Chapter 9:21]; to amend the Anti-Corruption Commission Act [Chapter 9:22], the Public Order and Security Act [Chapter 11:17], the Police Act [Chapter 11:10], the Inland Waters Shipping Act [Chapter 13:06], the Tourism Act [Chapter 14:20], the Dangerous Drugs Act [Chapter 15:02], to amend the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act [Chapter 15:03]; the Public Health Act [Chapter 15:09], the Termination of Pregnancy Act [Chapter 15:10], the Housing and Building Act [Chapter 22:07] and the Mental Health Act, 1996; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.
WHEREAS section 18 of the Constitution provides for certain fundamental principles of our criminal justice system including, in particular, the following:¾
“18.(2) If any person is charged with a criminal offence, then, unless the charge is withdrawn, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.
(3) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence—
(a) shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty;
(b) shall be informed as soon as reasonably practicable, in a language that he understands and in detail, of the nature of the offence charged;
and, except with his own consent, the trial shall not take place in his absence unless he so conducts himself as to render the continuance of the proceedings in his presence impracticable and the court has ordered him to be removed and the trial to proceed in his absence.
(5) No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence that is severer in degree or description than the maximum penalty that might have been imposed for that offence at the time when it was committed.
(6) No person who shows that he has been tried by a competent court for a criminal offence upon a good indictment, summons or charge upon which a valid judgment could be entered and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for any other criminal offence of which he could have been convicted at the trial for that offence…
(8) No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial.”;
AND WHEREAS it is desirable to codify and, where necessary, reform the common criminal law of Zimbabwe¾
(a) in conformity with the fundamental principles set out in the Constitution and other fundamental principles developed over time by our criminal justice system; and
(b) in order to set out in a concise and accessible form what conduct our criminal justice system forbids and punishes and what defences can be raised to criminal charges;
NOW, THEREFORE, be it enacted by the President and the Parliament of Zimbabwe as follows:¾
1 Short title and date of commencement
(1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act may be cited as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23], and is hereinafter referred to as “this Code”.
(2) References in this Act to “this Code” and in any other enactment to “the Criminal Law Code” shall be construed as references to this Act.
(3) This Code shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by the President by notice in a statutory instrument.