Tuesday, 5 January 2021

MAFUME BAIL MUST BE REVOKED : STATE

THE State is seeking the cancellation of bail granted to suspended Harare mayor Jacob Mafume by the High Court following his arrest on allegations of attempting to bribe a key witness in a criminal case he is facing.

 The State argued that Mafume wilfully interfered with the witness, Edgar Dzehonye, in a matter he is accused of facilitating residential stands for his sister and colleague. He is currently in custody after he was denied bail over the alleged interference, having been charged with obstruction of justice and has since made a bail appeal at the High Court.

Represented by Tendai Biti, Mafume successfully had regional magistrate Ngoni Nduna recuse himself from hearing the application after he presided over and denied him bail in the obstruction case.

Biti argued that the application by the State is seeking to put Mafume is double jeopardy as the prosecution is relying on the same facts they used in his bail and remand proceedings.

He argued that the magistrate could not be made to review his decision by entertaining the State’s application as he had made a determination in his judgment on December 16 when Mafume was denied bail.

“Normally in recusal applications there are undertones or overtones that there is something wrong with you, but there’s nothing wrong with you but we are saying you have already made a decision in the matter.

“The court can’t be made to act as a court of appeal or review of its decision,” Biti submitted. The State had opposed the recusal application, saying the court was competent to hear it, describing the application as “frivolous and vexatious”. The magistrate said it will be in the interest of fairness that the matter be heard by another judicial officer.

“The matter should be taken to another judicial officer, with the facts placed before a fresh mind.” Mafume was denied bail and sent to prison for allegedly trying to bribe a witness in a matter he is accused of influencing council officials in allocating residential stands to his sister and workmate.

This came after he had been granted bail by the High Court and ordered not to interfere with witnesses, Dzehonye and Addmore Nhekairo, who are council officials, a condition the State says he violated.

It is the State’s case that on December 12, 2020, Mafume made a WhatsApp call to Dzehonye. It is alleged that the following day, he made another call and asked to meet Dzohonye at Fife Avenue Shopping Centre.

On December 14, it is alleged that Mafume made another call requesting to meet Dzehonye at Strathaven Shopping Centre. Mafume and Dzohonye allegedly met in the latter’s vehicle at the shopping centre and began conversing.

Prosecutors are saying Mafume begged Dzehonye to give a “favourable” testimony in court in the stands case and allegedly offered him US$1 000 and that more money would be handed over later in the day. He was, however, arrested while sitting in Dzehonye’s vehicle following a tip-off. Daily News

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