Zifas star witness in the Centralgate match-fixing scandal, former referee Cosmas Nyoni, yesterday left the Bulawayo Magistrates Court a happy man after he was acquitted of charges of defaming suspended Zifa Southern Region chairman Gift Banda.
In her verdict, magistrate Sophie Matimba said she felt the matter before her was a case of sour grapes. Matimba said suspended Zifa Referees Committee vice-chairperson Samukeliso Silengane, who was the States second witness in the case, could have been involved in Banda and Nyonis deal which went sour.
The court feels that there was probably a deal that was made by the accused (Nyoni) and the complainant (Banda) through the second witness Samukeliso (Silengane) to fix that particular match in question.
However, it appears as though the deal went sour and accused let the complainant down, which did not go down well with the complainant. The stories of the complainant and the accused are both believable.
The duty of the court is to see if the State has proved a prima facie (legitimate) case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. Both accused and complainant could be lying, which leaves the court in doubt as whether to convict or not convict the accused person.
It is a general rule that when there is a doubt whether an accused committed an offence or not, it just and proper to acquit the accused.
The court feels the State failed prove a prima facie against accused as the onus lies on the State to prove accused committed the offence. I hereby find accused not guilty and acquitted, Matimba said.
In Nyonis closing submissions, his lawyer Brighton Ndove said Bandas evidence was contradictory and it would be a mockery of justice if the court was to believe it without making some considerations.
He (Banda) states that in his evidence-in-chief that he has not met the accused for more than three years. Yet during cross-examination when it was put to him by his defence counsel, the accused person graphically described his offices general outlook.
He retorts: He will obviously be able to do so. Last year he came to my office as the chairman. The apparent contradiction in this is that whilst telling the court that he has never met the accused in three years, complainant forgets that last year falls within the three years, Ndove averred.
The lawyer said Banda was attempting to mislead the court and further stated that his evidence corroborated Nyonis defence outline when he admitted that he once called the accused on his mobile phone and sent him text messages after the disputed matches.
Ndove said Silenganes evidence was of no value to the court and his client was the only credible witness.
He is the only witness who volunteered to the court, hence giving the court and the general public an insight as to how match-fixing was done.
He did not hide the truth, even at the risk of self-incrimination. He was a reliable and credible witness, Ndove said.
Prosecutor Robin Mukura had alleged that between November 30 last year and December 3, Nyoni gave information to the media purporting he was summoned by Banda to his office after failing to deliver results from Central Region League due to match-fixing.