Monday, 3 February 2020

MPHOKO PLAYING GAMES : MAGISTRATE


A Harare magistrate has expressed disquiet over “delay tactics” being employed by the defence team of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who is facing charges of criminal abuse of office.

The trial was supposed to start on Thursday last week, but his lawyer Mr Zibusiso Ncube sought a postponement to enable a new advocate to handle the case.

This was the fifth time the matter was deferred at the instigation of the defence, which cited various reasons each time the matter was brought to court for trial.

The postponement did not go down well with both the trial magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya and the prosecution which accused the defence of playing games with the court.

Mphoko, who all along was being represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, advised the court that he had sought the services of Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba.

In this regard, he requested for a postponement to February 13 to allow Adv Magwaliba to familiarise himself with the case and prepare the defence.

Mr Mujaya asked: “Will this trial ever commence in this lifetime. We cannot continue postponing this matter. All we seem to do is gather here and look at each other and leave the court. We need progress. 

“It is not only about the interest of your client, the interest of justice requires to be protected. I am worried about these several postponements.”

Mr Mujaya then requested that the trial commences on February 1, which was a Saturday last week.

“I am against the date you proposed,” he said. “Court is willing to have the matter start on February 1 and inconvenience myself and everyone else so that we put a start to the matter. Courts are allowed to express displeasure and demand some sort of progress.”

In response, Mr Ncube rejected the date proposed by the court, saying they were members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, hence they did not work on a Saturday.

He said he could not compromise on the Sabbath. Representing the prosecution, Mr Lovert Masuku and Mr Andrew Kumire said they were ready to proceed to trial. 

Mr Masuku said: “Your Worship, the record speaks for itself. The defence has been making several applications for postponements. We are opposed to their application. They promised to serve us with the defence outline on January 24, but up to now they have not served us.”

After several arguments and submissions, the State and the defence reached a consensus and agreed that the matter be remanded to February 13 for trial.

Mr Mujaya then remanded Mphoko to the agreed date.

Mphoko allegedly instructed junior officers at Avondale Police Station in Harare to release from detention cells, former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive Moses Juma, who was facing abuse of office charges. Herald

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