The high-profile case of the alleged diamond fraudsters continued at the magistrates courts in Harare yesterday amid unusually tight security, and drama galore.
Plainclothes security agents frisked and screened people, including lawyers and journalists, at the entrance into Court 3 where the case is being heard while one of the accused persons Mark Tsomondo provided the serious court hearing with unexpected drama.
When provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe described Godwills Masimirembwa, a key state witness, as “a senior lawyer who appreciates court procedures”, Tsomondo burst in laughter attracting the attention of the magistrate and gallery.
The magistrate asked Tsomondo why he was laughing to which he replied:
“Your Worship, I hear you refer to him (Masimirembwa) as a senior lawyer, but what I know is that he was struck off the practicing register and therefore he is not a lawyer. I therefore impulsively thought it was funny that he could be referred to as a senior lawyer.
“I know that he is not a lawyer.”
Guvamombe then reminded Tsomondo that he was facing a serious case and that the court was sitting to deal with matters to do with his liberty and therefore he should not find the hearing hilarious.
Tsomondo’s lawyer, Melina Matschiya, immediately stood up and apologised to the court.
The case is being heard in open court where anyone is free to attend, but for curious reasons, a team of men in plainclothes who identified themselves as “police officers” stopped and turned away people even after identifying themselves as either relatives of the accused, court officials or journalists.
The case has generated interest from both government and interested groups, but on Tuesday, most of the people who failed the vetting process were barred from witnessing proceedings.
Masimirembwa, who is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, told the court that the six accused persons allegedly connived and misrepresented to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu, that Core Mining and Mineral Resources had satisfied the Mining Development Board’s investor evaluation criteria.
By that misrepresentation, Masimirembwa said the government was duped into entering into a mining agreement with a shelf company which failed to deliver.
Eight lawyers representing the six accused persons are arguing against the placement of their clients on remand on the grounds the state had failed to establish an offence was committed.
Arguments over the placement of the accused persons on remand were provisionally suspended on Tuesday as the lawyers chose to deal with the issue of bail.
The application for bail was heard and ruling is expected on Wednesday.