THE Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has dismissed an application by MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, who had sought to bar the State from prosecuting him over theft of trust property, paving the way for the commencement of the trial at the magistrates’ courts.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The full ConCourt bench, headed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, concurred that Mwonzora, through his lawyers, Trust Maanda and Jeremiah Bhamu, had failed to substantiate that his fundamental constitutional rights had been infringed.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku said the magistrate who referred the matter to the highest court in the land should have simply dismissed the application on the basis that it was frivolous.
“The matter should have been dismissed by the magistrate as frivolous and should never have been referred to this court. The State is equally to blame. It messed up by allowing this matter to come here,” he said.
The Chief Justice also said given that there were other remedies provided for in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, the matter should not have been brought to the ConCourt.
The court further said Mwonzora’s arguments were based on the grounds that he had not been able to access the bank statements to prepare for his case in the magistrates’ court and further that due to the lapse of time, his constitutional rights to a fair trial within a reasonable time had been infringed.
However, the court pointed out to Mwonzora’s lawyer that there were bank statements forming part of his court application, which was an indication that he had all the necessary documents to prepare his defence.
The court also pointed out that the prescription period within which one would still be charged with a criminal offence was 20 years and Mwonzora’s six-year-old case was still within that legal period, and as such he could be prosecuted.
Maanda, however, was quick to admit that given what the court had highlighted to him, although he had not been given instructions to withdraw the matter, he saw no reason to pursue the application.
Allegations against Mwonzora arose sometime in 2007 where he is alleged to have swindled his client Everson Dandadzi of over ZW$5,45 billion.