HomeLocal NewsBusinessman gets relief on bigamy

Businessman gets relief on bigamy

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Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou has granted a temporary stay of prosecution to Bulawayo businessman Joubert Maplanka after the latter sought an order barring the lower courts from prosecuting him for bigamy.

Maplanka (52) who owns a fleet of cross-border buses, was arrested in November last year and charged with bigamy after he married a second wife while he still was legally married to his first wife.

He declined to be tried for the offence at the lower courts arguing the offence had occurred in July 1990, some 20 years ago.

The matter was heard before Justice Ndou on February 7.

“Proceedings under cover of CRB 4018/10 be and are hereby stayed pending the determination of the review application under cover of case number HCR20/11,” Justice Ndou ruled.

Earlier on, Maplanka had appeared before magistrate Ndumo Masuku facing a bigamy charge arising from his marriage to a second wife, Sukoluhle Dladla Maplanka in July 1990, while he was still legally married to first wife, Nomagugu Nobuhle.

Masuku had ruled that Maplanka be prosecuted for bigamy arguing the case had not been prescribed.

The magistrate said Maplanka was still married to two women and granting him the application for bar of prosecution would technically mean letting him continue with the second marriage which in legal interpretation was a nullity.

He said the move was tantamount to validating an illegal act which the court was reluctant to do. Justice Ndou’s ruling followed Maplanka’s application to have his earlier plea of guilty altered to not guilty.

The businessman also wanted an order to bar prosecution, arguing the matter had surpassed the time frame of 20 years in which the right to prosecution prevailed in terms of Section 23(2) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

The section stipulates that only murder had no time frame for prosecution but any other offence could not be taken to court after a lapse of 20 years.

Papers before the court revealed that Maplanka married Sukoluhle, a schoolteacher, on July 14, 1990 to facilitate her transfer from a rural school to Bulawayo.

However, their relationship later turned sour and the couple took each other to the High Court.

It was during the legal wrangle at the High Court that it was revealed Maplanka married Sukoluhle knowing that he was officially married to Nomagugu Nobuhle.

After the discovery at the High Court, Maplanka was arrested and charged with bigamy. The businessman was represented by Zibusiso Charles Moyo.

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