Chihuri threatens Temba Mliswa …as the plot thickens

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In a move described by lawyers as gross undermining of court processes, the police have come out guns blazing in defence of Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, who was implicated by Temba Mliswa’s in his on-going court case involving stolen property.
Police chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday issued a statement denying allegations that Mliswa, the incarcerated businessman and farmer, levelled against Chihuri and other influential people, in court on Tuesday.
Mliswa told the court that one of the six generators he stands accused of stealing from farms, was bought by Chihuri.
He further alleged that two other were purchased by Jocelyn Chiwenga, wife to army chief Constantine, and Zanu PF MP for Goromonzi North Paddy Zhanda.
Bvudzijena said Mliswa’s accusations in court were spurious and that Chihuri was seeking legal advise on the matter.
“The claim has no basis as the Commissioner General has never had any relationship with Temba Mliswa socially or otherwise. He has never bought anything from Mliswa, let alone generators referred to,” Bvudzijena said.
“The only relationship between Cde Chihuri and Mliswa is of a police officer and an accused person. The claims are therefore spurious and directed at mudslinging others without basis. The police also warned that “the Commissioner General is receiving legal advice on the way forward.”
Yesterday, several lawyers and court officials interviewed said the move by the police was “subjudice”, “ill-advised”, “discouraged” and “outright illegal” because the statements we made outside court.
“This would be seen at law as an attempt to influence the court processes,” said Alec Muchadehama, a human rights lawyer. “The police commissioner should have waited for his day in court, instead of appearing to be trying to jeopardise court processes.”
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said making public statements on matters that were still before the courts was not only “improper” but outright “illegal”. He said the police had shown gross disrespect for the courts by making statements that were likely to pre-empt court decisions.
“Obviously Chihuri, through his spokesperson, has undermined the authority of the courts,” Madhuku said, adding “You don’t start making statements, responding to on-going court cases in which you are mentioned and likely to stand as a witness. That is completely outrageous at law and illegal.”
Chief Law Officer in the Attorney General’s Office Chris Mutangadura however said there was nothing improper about the police making such a statement. He said it was lawful for the police to refute allegations that had been published.
“They (police) are allowed to make a public statement to contradict what Mliswa alleged. It’s lawful,” Mutangadura said.
A magistrate who preferred to remain anonymous echoed Mutangadura’s views. He said the courts were not influenced by newspaper stories or public statements.
“I think the Commissioner General wanted his side of the story to be heard and I see nothing very wrong with that,” the magistrate said. “In fact I think he is entitled to that being such a public figure. The courts are only influenced by evidence that is given in court and not by newspaper stories or statements.”
Andrew Makoni, another lawyer said it was “not encouraged but not illegal” for people to make statements that protected their interests.
Meanwhile Mliswa was yesterday remanded in custody pending the outcome of the application he intends to make at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of his placement on remand.
Harare Magistrate Donald Ndirowei dismissed Mliswa’s application to refer the matter to the Supreme Court and placed him on remand.
“The state case, presents facts that there is reasonable suspicion that the accused committed an offence. The application by the defence is frivolous and vexatious and meant to abuse the system of the Supreme Court, accused is hereby placed on remand” Ndirowei ruled.
Mliswa has publicly attacked Chihuri, accusing him of massive corruption and threatening to expose him.
He faces up to 70 various charges ranging from extortion, fraud and assault – all linked to alleged violent seizures and stripping of white-owned commercial farms during a decade of chaotic land reform.