Magistrate sucked in CAPS boss saga

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Harare provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi allegedly held a secret meeting with the accused CAPS Holdings chairperson, Frederick Mtandah, during which strategies to incarcerate and eliminate the businessmen were disclosed.

The magistrate handling a case in which Mtandah is accused of fraud involving millions recused himself last week after revelations of the secret meeting were made in court.

Provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini on Monday this week stood down from the case, saying the conflict between the State and defence had the potential to compromise delivery of justice.

Mtandah and CAPS Pharmaceuticals general manager Justice Majakaare are on trial over an alleged $25 million fraud case involving the registration of drug formulas.

The two applied for refusal of remand, but the case took a new twist when Jarabani recused himself before making a ruling.

It has since emerged that Jarabinis decision was influenced by allegations raised by Mtandahs lawyers last Friday that Mutevedzi held meetings with undisclosed people where strategies to incarcerate and eliminate the CAPS boss were made.

Mutevedzi yesterday said he could not comment on the matter because he was a judicial officer, but said the alleged meeting never took place.

According to court records, following the alleged meeting, Mtandahs lawyer Linda Chipato wrote to the Attorney-General (AG)s Office expressing displeasure at Mutevedzis alleged conduct and requested the AGs Office to investigate the matter.

An official from the Anti-Corruption Commission confirmed they made a copy of the court record and were looking into the matter.

Chipato told Jarabini before he recused himself that Mtandah had evidence of the alleged meeting.

The first accused has evidence of a meeting held with a Mr Mutevedzi and other gentlemen who is said to have confirmed to the first accused as having been engaged to eliminate him, whatever that means, Chipato wrote in the court record.

The meeting was held on or about December 21 and the first accused has photographic evidence of that meeting wherein the process that has been mentioned. The meeting was held, I am advised, at a service station along Chiremba Road in the Chadcombe area, Hatfield. We are not certain whether this area is near where Mr Mutevedzi resides.

Chipato said Mtandah had made a police report about the meeting and a suggestion was made to set up a trap against Mutevedzi. But the prosecutor in the corruption case, Obi Mabahwana, dismissed the defences claims, saying the letter to the AGs Office was abusive, mischievous and malicious.

He said the correspondence bordered on contempt of court and criminal defamation.

I will make this letter to be photocopied and filed for records, Mabahwana charged in the record.

From the reading of it, one can infer that this court is corrupt and is abusing its office, therefore it was the States feeling that this should be brought to the attention of this court.

However, Chipato maintained the allegations were serious and warranted further investigation.

What has been abusive, malicious and mischievous are the present proceedings which have given rise to our having authored this letter to the AGs Office and into this court, she added.

It is our duty to bring to each others attention anything that might be amiss about a case or proceedings that are pending, this is what we simply did in this letter.

Jarabini remanded the matter to March 6 where it is expected the case would have been allocated to another magistrate.