Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Lawrence Kamocha on Thursday ordered a permanent stay of prosecution in city businessman, Joubert Maplanka’s bigamy case until the determination of a review application against a Bulawayo magistrate Ndumo Masuku’s ruling ordering the entrepreneur to be prosecuted.
Maplanka had approached the High Court on an urgent basis to stop the prosecution proceedings at the magistrate courts where Masuku had ordered that he be prosecuted for bigamy, despite his application for permanent stay of prosecution arguing that the matter had surpassed the timeframe of 20 years in which the right of prosecution prevailed in terms of the law.
A provisional order was then granted in his favour on February 7 and on Thursday, Kamocha confirmed the order.
“Whereupon reading document filed of record and hearing Mr Z Ncube for the applicant, it is ordered that the provisional order issued by this court on 7th day of February 2001 be and hereby confirmed. All respondents on the following terms, proceedings undercover of CRB 4019/10 be and are hereby stayed pending determination of the review application under cover of case number HCR 20/11,” ordered Kamocha.
The order came after Maplanka had approached the High Court in February seeking a review of Masuku‘s ruling that he should be prosecuted for bigamy.
Maplanka had made an application to alter his plea of guilty to that of not guilty and bar prosecution arguing the matter had surpassed the timeframe 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 timeframe for prosecution but any other offence could not be taken to court after the lapse of 20 years.
Masuku ruled that Maplanka was still married to two different 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.
Masuku said the move was tantamount to validating an illegal act which this court was reluctant to do.
Maplanka was arrested soon after he had made an application to the High Court barring his other wife, Sukoluhle Dladla Maplanka whom he married in July 1990 from attending his anniversary with the other wife, Nomagugu Nobuhle.