Former Warriors fitness trainer and businessman, Temba Mliswa, was Wednesday acquitted on charges of trying to wrestle a million-dollar vehicle accessories company, Noshio Investments, from Paul Westwood.
Mliswa’s five co-accused also walked out scot free.
“No reasonable court acting carefully could convict the accused persons and putting them on their defence would be bolstering the State case,” regional magistrate Never Katiyo said before acquitting Mliswa, Hammarskjold Banda, Brendaly Banda, Alfred Mwatiwamba, Martin Mutasa and George Marere.
The acquittal followed an application for dismissal of case at close of the State case by their lawyer, Charles Chinyama. The ruling, comes barely a week after the Attorney-General’s representative, Godwin Takawira Nyasha and Chinyama were arrested and charged for allegedly influencing the outcome of the case.
Chinyama was placed on remand on a charge of defeating the course of justice while Nyasha was charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Regional magistrate Katiyo expressed displeasure in the manner this matter had been handled. “This has not been a pleasing case to be handled by this court,” the magistrate said. “Both the State (Nyasha) and the defence (Chinyama) have been placed on remand because of this case. I will deal with this case as a magistrate and dispense justice.”
“The State attempted to come up with a shocking application to reopen the State case and the court wonders up to now what was to be achieved,” he added.
The magistrate said charges laid against the accused were totally misplaced as the evidence presented by Westwood had not shown there was reasonable suspicion the accused committed the offence.
The court said Noshio Investments, as a company, and not Westwood, should have come to court as the complainant, given the transfer of one’s shares could not be regarded as fraud but a contravention of the Companies Act.
However, the court also noted Westwood’s shares in the company were not tampered with and wondered why he regarded himself a complainant.
The court also said the company was being run like a tuck-shop since its formation in the late ’90s.
Although the State alleged Mliswa and his colleagues threatened Westwood to leave the company by telling him they had been sent by Saviour Kasukuwere, Youth Empowerment and Employment Creation minister, and that President Robert Mugabe was aware of the takeover, the court had found otherwise.
“In my view Westwood felt threatened by the accused. If the big names were mentioned they were meant to instill fear and not misrepresentation. Instilling fear does not amount to fraud,” Katiyo added.