Lawyers representing The Standard journalists, editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Patience Nyangove, as well as Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) group human resources manager Loud Ramakgapola yesterday made an application for referral of their case to the Supreme Court.
The lawyers made the application before provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini in terms of Section 24(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, challenging the constitutionality of criminal defamation.
Madanhire, Nyangove and Ramakgapola are being charged with criminal defamation following the publication of a story carried in the weekly The Standard issue of June 26-July 2, titled: MDC-T fears for missing Timba.
The matter was supposed to proceed to trial yesterday after prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema insisted Ramakgapola represented the interests of The Standard newspaper contrary to the defence’s argument that he could not represent the name of a newspaper which was not a company.
Immediately the journalists’ lawyer objected to the continuation of trial arguing the Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, would rule in favour of the journalists that criminal defamation was unconstitutional.
Turning to the issue of Police Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge allegedly being referred to as “the notorious”, the lawyer said: “I goggled with cyber space and they are 21 000 entries where he (Makedenge) was mentioned as ‘the notorious’.”
He further argued so many people were referred to by different titles and names and gave an example of Phillip Chiyangwa who he said was commonly referred to as “the flamboyant”.
Magistrate Jarabini deferred the matter to tomorrow when he is expected to make a determination on whether he should refer the matter to Supreme Court or continue with the trial.