CAPTAIN Alfred Mugadza yesterday took his employer, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), and its top officials to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) seeking protection from being prosecuted by a military court martial over a nine-year-old matter.
In his application, Mugadza, through his lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, argued that the move by the military to try him over offences allegedly committed in 2005 was in violation of his constitutional rights to a fair trial within a reasonable time.
However, the defendants, who included the Defence minister, Commander of the ZNA, president of the Court Martial and Director of Military Prosecution, who were all represented by the Attorney-General’s Office Civil Division, argued that Mugadza could not be located, hence the delay in prosecuting his trial.
The AG’s Office, however, failed to provide the court with any proof to the effect that the military had made efforts to look for Mugadza and serve him with court papers.
Mugadza told the court that after being released from military detention following his arrest on allegations of theft and being absent from duty without official leave, his employer ordered him to stay at his residence in Warren Park or at Chomupamba Farm in Karoi.
He further said he had been residing at the two premises and had never been called or summoned to attend the court martial, a claim challenged by the military.
AG’s representative Chenai Garisenheta, however, invited the court’s fury when she told the court that she had not been furnished with all the necessary documents to present her case.
“It’s not acceptable at this level for you to approach the court without adequate information. You should feel the duty to put the case before us in the best way you can,” Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said.
Judge of Appeal Justice Ben Hlatshwayo added: “It’s a case that is badly made and answered in a badly manner.”
In the end the AG’s Office blamed the shoddy job on the military which it said prepared the court papers without any consultations. Judgment in the matter was reserved.