THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has castigated a Bulawayo magistrate for alleged bias after she acquitted a colleague on a charge of malicious damage to property. Batanai Tuwe recently acquitted Tsholotsho resident magistrate Victor Mpofu on a charge of malicious damage to property. Mpofu had allegedly destroyed a boundary fence following a land dispute.
The NPA, however, wants the matter to be heard again by a different magistrate on the grounds that Tuwe had been biased in favour of Mpofu. Mpofu had pleaded not guilty and then notified the court that he was going to apply for discharge at the close of the state case, which the state opposed.
“The decision by the first respondent (Tuwe) to discharge the second respondent (Mpofu) forms the basis of this application. Tuwe erred by acquitting Mpofu and she showed a clear bias if not a lack of understanding of the law,” said Nokuthaba Ngwenya.
She said Tuwe misdirected herself by disregarding the evidence of three state witnesses. “The first respondent erred by acquitting the second respondent prematurely before the application for discharge was made by Mpofu.