Zifa’s star witness in the match-fixing allegations in the Central Region, suspended referees’ committee representative for the Southern Region Cosmas Nyoni, appeared in court yesterday facing criminal defamation charges.
Nyoni, who stands accused of defaming suspended Zifa Southern Region chairman Gift Banda, was adamant that what he said in the media was true.
His statements have led to the suspension of Banda and Central Region chairman Patrick Hokonya from the Zifa Board.
Nyoni averred during trial before Bulawayo magistrate Sophie Matimba that the statement he gave to the media came from him and it was true.
He pleaded not guilty and was remanded out of custody on his own cognisance to tomorrow for continuation of trial.
The matter came as a summons case. Banda and Samukeliso Silengane, the suspended acting Zifa Referees’ Committee chairperson, led evidence and the State has closed its case.
In his defence, Nyoni said the statement he made about Banda in the media was not defamatory at all as it was a true statement.
“The statement attributed to him as published by the Chronicle on the 3rd of December 2011 in an article entitled ‘Banda lied — Cosmas Nyoni’ is a true and correct version of what he told the reporter named in that publication and the accused (Nyoni) will incorporate same statement into his defence outline as if specially traversed.
That accused person will accordingly pray that this honourable court finds him not guilty of the charges and acquit him,” said Nyoni in his defence outline tendered to the court by his lawyer, Brighton Ndove, of Marondedze, Mukuku and Ndove Legal Practitioners.
Robin Mukura for the State told the court that between November 30 and December 3, Nyoni supplied information to the Press to the effect that he was summoned by Banda to his office after failing to deliver results from Central Region soccer league games by match-fixing, which was not true.
He said Banda never met Nyoni over the games which were played on October 10.
It is alleged the story was published in the public media on December 3 under the headline “Banda lied – Cosmas Nyoni”.
Banda and Central Region chairman Patrick Hokonya were suspended last Wednesday on allegations of match-fixing, a decision both say violated the constitution of the national association.
Section 30 used to suspend the duo states that any suspension must be followed by a disciplinary hearing within 14 days and no one should be suspended to facilitate investigations.
Zifa have moved swiftly to replace Banda with his deputy Morgan Dube while Hokonya has been replaced by Patrick Hill ahead of the last board meeting of the year next week.
Meanwhile, as the court case continues tomorrow, the outcome of the appeal in the case of Hardbody and Tripple B is likely to be delivered on Friday, finally declaring the Central Region champions.
Hardbody were docked 42 points for the use of an unregistered player, but have appealed against that decision.
Tripple B, on other hand, insist they are still concerned about the impartiality of the Zifa Appeals Committee to deliver a fair ruling on the dispute.
“Our main concerns are that the presiding committee that was put into office to handle our issues against Hardbody is not trustworthy.
Also, an interesting issue is that the secretary, Tim Sangarwe, went on to ask Hardbody to make a prayer for their appeal and what was his interest in asking them to do that?
“We had some unsigned documents from Hardbody that were to be used in the hearing and, during the course of the hearing, some Hardbody officials went out of the house.
And, upon their return, a lady from Zifa came in with a signed document and where it originated from, we don’t know and the question was: Who asked her to bring that document as no one had made a request unless if someone had sent her an sms from his phone?
If a team needs an international (transfer) clearance (ITC), be it from Zifa or any other football association, they will be only notified by the association to go ahead and register the player (when such a document is issued to the association),” read Tripple B’s statement.
“In this instance there were rumours that the player in question did not have a clearance from Zifa to go and play in Namibia and our own association had nothing in file and how can this be because the said player was registered to play in Namibia?
“The interesting part is Hardbody have got Tatenda Chingarah’s ITC issued by Zifa and the question is how and why did Zifa avail this ITC to Hardbody or how did Hardbody get this from Zifa when they are not supposed to be in possession of that document?”