The high-profile trial of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment deputy minister Tongai Matutu (40), who is accused of assaulting Chief Serima (Vengesayi Rushwaya) at the end of September, got off to a hilarious start on Friday after the complainant refused to answer questions from the defence counsel led by prominent lawyer Douglas Mwonzora.
This forced the magistrate to adjourn court proceedings.
Magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso took the measure to allow prosecutor Frank Chirairo to advise the chief on court proceedings.
Matutu’s trial failed to start on November 11 after magistrate Jabulani Mzinyathi, who initially heard the case, recused himself, saying he had known and worked with the accused for a long time.
When Mwonzora asked why Chief Serima had given two statements to the police, one on September 26 at Chatsworth Police Base, and the other on November 11 at the Masvingo Magistrates Court, the chief, who appeared bossy throughout the court proceedings, lifted his hand thrice and demanded to be asked questions by the magistrate, leaving the court in stitches.
Mudzongachiso adjourned the trial and asked Chirairo to advise the chief on court procedures.
When the case resumed, the chief said he was illiterate, but after questioning by Mwonzora, he admitted he could read and write.
He told the court that on the day of the alleged crime, he could not read where it was written MDC-T.
“I could not only read where it was written MDC-T,” he said, bringing the packed court down in laughter.
Mwonzora and the chief exchanged harsh words after the complainant refused to answer further questions posed to him by the defence counsel.
When the complainant alleged that he was first beaten by Matutu before several other party youths joined in, he was asked why he did not sustain any injuries, to which he replied: “Do you wish to get me injured?”
The defence also asked the chief why he never sought medical treatment, and he said he administered traditional herbs at his home and took pain-killing tablets, again leaving the court in stitches.
Asked why his sworn statemement before the courts differed from his brother Gondo Pindurai’s, the chief said he did not want to discuss something said by his brother.