KWEKWE — MDC-T councillor Johannes Ngozo, facing eight counts of fraud and corruption has asked the magistrates’ court to refer his matter to the Supreme Court alleging his constitutional rights were infringed upon by a prosecutor handling the matter.
Ngozo, facing allegations of duping desperate home seekers of over $10 000 in a residential stands deal which went sour, accused the State of targeting him on political grounds, saying his chances of getting a fair trial were “next to zero”.
Taking to the witness stand, Ngozo accused prosecutor Salome Maunganidze of having advised him to ditch his lawyer because he was “hard-headed and was difficult to deal with”.
He also alleged Maunganidze had told him she was under pressure to deal with his case which could cloud the State’s judgment in delivering a fair trial.
“I took the words ‘pressure by the prosecution’ to mean that there might be an unseen hand targeting me on grounds of my political affiliation. This has made me afraid that the ends of justice may not be met in this instance,” said Ngozo.
Defence lawyer Valentine Mutatu said Ngozo’s constitutional rights as enshrined in section 23 of the Constitution — which include a right to a fair trial and freedom to choose a lawyer — had been infringed upon and therefore wanted the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court for determination.
The State, now represented by area prosecutor Brian Muzemba, denied Maunganidze ever suggested Ngozo should ditch his lawyers, but merely advised the councillor the State was willing to proceed with the trial even in the absence of the defence lawyer.
Mutatu had abandoned his client and left for a meeting in Gweru after trial was temporarily stood down last Thursday without making a formal application to the court for a postponement.
During cross-examination Muzemba submitted to Ngozo that his intention was merely to frustrate court proceedings because he knew evidence against him was overwhelming and he was likely to be convicted.
The State is expected to submit its opposing papers on Friday and magistrate Taurai Manuwere is expected to pass a ruling.