Prison officers ordered to unshackle Komichi

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HARARE magistrate Tendai Mahwe yesterday ordered prison officers attached to the court to remove the leg irons in which the MDC-T deputy national chairperson Morgan Komichi had been coming to court since the beginning of his trial.

REPORT BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

Mahwe, who is presiding over Komichi’s trial in a case where the latter is being charged with allegedly tampering with ballot papers in contravention of the Electoral Act, said it was unnecessary for the accused to be chained in court.

“Shackles are not necessary when the accused person is in court. I have indicated several times before in different cases that the police should provide more manpower and not shackles,” Mahwe ruled.

This was after Komichi’s lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, had expressed concern over the hindrances to his client’s freedom of movement.

The State alleges Komichi tampered with Constable Mugove Chiginya’s ballot papers in a bid to discredit the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), a charge he has since denied.

After Komichi had the chains removed, Muchadehama continued with his cross–examination of Zec deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana, who is the State’s first witness.

As a standard rule, Silaigwana said, voters’ rolls were provided at every special voting polling station on July 14 and 15.

When quizzed, he confirmed that even police officers registered in various constituencies and wards, but stationed in Harare would find the voters’ roll for their specific constituency in a polling station in Harare.

The person’s name would be cancelled from the roll once it was confirmed that they were registered, he said.

Muchadehama, however, disputed Silaigwana’s account and said there were no voters’ rolls provided during the special vote saying Zec officials used a separate register created for that purpose.

As the cross–examination continued, Silaigwana refused to answer questions relating to the processes pertaining to the special vote. These included where the police officer at the centre of controversy, Constable Chiginya, was registered. He also declined to answer questions pertaining to the person at Zec to whom the ballots were handed as well as the appearance of the special ballot packages before and after voting.

“I wouldn’t know. I think the person responsible for the process would answer better,” said Silaigwana.

He also refused to respond to the question about where the ballot papers were placed after voting and how the grey tamper–proof envelope was opened. On Thursday, the court heard that Mugove was registered in four constituencies, namely Mbare, Southerton, Harare and Harare East, raising fears he could have easily voted four times.

The trial continues on Monday.