Prosecutors delaying hearing of Gwisai appeal

Delays in court cases because prosecutors are simply failing to show up have been criticised by a leading defence lawyer.


Alec Muchadehama told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that he’s noticed a disturbing pattern where state prosecutors have failed to show up in court, for no apparent reason.

Muchadehama is dealing with the case of former MDC-T legislator and academic, Munyaradzi Gwisai and five others, who were last week convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit public violence. Gwisai was jointly charged with Antonater Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo, and Welcome Zimuto.

Harare Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini on Wednesday last week ordered that the six pay a $500 fine each. A further 24 months prison term was imposed on the activists, 12 months of which were suspended on condition of good behaviour for the next five years. The remaining 12 months were suspended on condition the six perform 420 hours of community service, starting on March 31st.

The lawyer appealed against both the conviction and sentence but the hearing of that appeal has been postponed twice, because a prosecutor has failed to attend and represent the state. Muchadehama has been in court since Monday applying to have the community service sentence set aside pending appeal.

‘The case was in court yesterday (Monday) but there was no prosecutor in sight. It was postponed to today (Tuesday) but nothing happened as there was no prosecutor. Once again it was postponed to Wednesday,’ Muchadehama said. The fuming lawyer said the action by the prosecutors was deliberate and meant to keep his clients as anxious as they can.

‘If this appeal (against community service) is not determined by Friday, as we keep getting these postponements it means my clients are obliged by law to start their community service on Saturday. This is what some people in the Attorney-General are after but we want to expose that,’ Muchadehama added.

He continued: ‘We want the conviction to be quashed and sentence to be set aside. All what we want is for the conviction to be upturned so that verdict of not guilty is retained.’

Meanwhile four University of Zimbabwe students arrested last week Tuesday for celebrating the non-custodial sentencing of Gwisai will appear in court next month. The students were released on $20 bail and will appear on the 14th of April for trial. – SW Radio Africa News

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