Lawyers representing Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana yesterday notified the court that there were preliminary issues they intend to raise before the trial commences.
The matter was due for trial yesterday, but the defence successfully sought for a postponement of the matter to July 7. Tomana is being represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Mr Tazorora Musarurwa and Mr Alex Mambosasa.
He is being charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer or alternatively defeating or obstructing the course of justice after he allegedly ordered the release of two men — Solomon Makumbe and Silas Pfupa — suspected of trying to petrol-bomb the First Family’s Alpha Omega Dairy Farm in Mazowe.
Advocate Mpofu told the court he was not feeling well hence he was unable to address the issues.
“Your Worship, before trial commences, there are certain preliminary motions that we need to move. Unfortunately I am not feeling well, hence I am not able to proceed with the matter today. I am proposing that the matter be rolled over to July 6,” he said.
There was, however, a tag of war between the State and defence after they failed to agree on a remand date. The prosecutor, Mr Gwinyai Shumba, with the assistance of Mr Timothy Makoni opposed the postponement, arguing that the State was ready for trial. He said it was unreasonable to have the matter remanded to July.
“The State feels the saying; ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ does not apply to the accused persons only, but also to the State. It is the State’s wish that the matter be completed within a reasonable time. Since the defence indicated that they want to make an interlocutory application before trial begins, the State is of the view that we finish the preliminary issues now and then we set the trial date.
The defence accused the State of flip- flopping saying that they had initially agreed on July 6 when they approached the presiding magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe in his chambers.
“There is a problem when a public official plays to the gallery. It is worrisome. How can he say that we convene on a day when people are not available? We came up with this date July 6 after checking our diaries and the State agreed, so why are they changing now?” Adv Mpofu said.
Mr Chikwekwe intervened and said,
“Both parties were in my chambers and we agreed on the dates. State, why are you suddenly shifting goal posts?”
The court adjourned briefly to allow the defence and State to decide on a date.
When the matter resumed, Mr Shumba advised the court that they had failed to reach a consensus and submitted that they still maintained June 3 as the remand date.
On the other hand, Advocate Mpofu proposed June 28 or July 7.
Mr Chikwekwe ruled in favour of the defence and remanded the matter to July 7.
It is the State’s case that Makumbe, Pfupa, Owen Kuchata and Borman Ngwenya were arrested for possession of weaponry for sabotage and money laundering for terrorism purposes.
On January 25, their request for remand placement forms were taken to the National Prosecuting Authority which gave the greenlight for the four to be placed on remand.
The quartet was taken to court for initial remand and was remanded in custody.
On January 29, the State alleged Tomana, knowing that police investigations were still in their infancy and without having sight of a complete docket, directed the withdrawal of charges before plea against two of the accused Makumbe and Pfupa.
He unilaterally suggested that the two be treated as witnesses, which was contrary to the evidence at hand which is linking them to the offence, the court heard. herald