THE 2014 judicial year was full of thrill and drama as it spared no one — politicians, journalists judicial and police officers – from the long arm of the law as cases of fraud, theft, breach of contract, defamation and violence dominated the court rolls.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
The year started with the high-profile case of RMG Independent End Time Message church leader Robert Martin Gumbura who was eventually jailed 40 years for raping his female congregants.
In March this year, Gumbura was slapped with a 50-year jail sentence after he was found guilty on four counts of rape and illegal possession of pornographic material, but 10 years were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
Regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya presided over the case which continued to hog the limelight after sentencing as Gumbura made several but unsuccessful applications to secure his freedom before High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa.
“The applicant’s moral blameworthiness is high and merits severe punishment. This may well have been a case that deserved to be referred to the High Court for sentence for purposes of precedence . . . I would, therefore, hold that there are no prospects of success on appeal against conviction,” Justice Musakwa said.
Justice Musakwa’s findings were later confirmed by the Supreme Court which then eventually dismissed his appeal effectively closing the Chikurubi Maximum Prison gates for the man of the cloth to start serving his time.
As the year progressed, the country again witnessed another high profile matter involving the Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi and his brother Phillip, who were charged for allegedly attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government through “waging cyber war”.
The Kudzayi brothers were accused of being the brains behind the Facebook shadowy character, Baba Jukwa, which the State alleged was used as a platform to incite citizens to revolt against President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
The same case also witnessed the arrest of a third year University of Zimbabwe student Romeo Musemburi over the same allegations.
Last month, Kudzayi’s application to be removed from remand was dismissed by a Harare magistrate on the basis that police were carrying out extra-territorial investigations in the United States.
Kudzayi, who is denying the allegations has since described as “ridiculous to suggest that police officers from countries such as Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Jamaica and Indonesia would travel to America and stand in queues at Facebook headquarters” in order to be given information.
The matter will be back in court on February 27 2015.
There was drama in Budiriro in May this year when members of the Johane Masowe eChishanu attacked police officers, journalists and officials from the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) during a raid aimed at closing the church by the latter.
According to the State, violence broke out at the shrine, when ACCZ leader Johannes Ndanga, who was at the time addressing the gathering in English, was booed and ordered to speak in Shona, prompting him to request the police officers to arrest one of the congregants who allegedly kept interjecting his speech.
This prompted the other congregants to allegedly start singing an inciting song called Humambo hwepfumo neropa (blood and spear kingdom) and the whole congregation rose and charged towards Ndanga, his delegation, police officers and journalists.
Eleven of the 37 apostolic sect members that were arrested over assaulting police officers and ACCZ officials were last month sentenced to five years in jail, while 26 others were acquitted for lack of evidence.
In passing sentence, provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe noted that the sect members acted in a manner that besmirched religion and did not befit members of a church.
After the incident, over 100 Zanu PF youths raided and burned the shrine and destroyed all fabrics and clay pots they found on the site, in apparent retaliation for the violent attack on nine police officers and journalists.
Zimbabwean musicians were not to be outdone either as some of them appeared in court for various reasons ranging from civil to criminal.
Sungura maestro Alick Macheso divorced his estranged wife Tafadzwa Fortunate Mapako and the former couple squared up in court as the latter demanded maintenance for herself and their two children.
As the divorce matter progressed, Macheso denied paternity prompting the court to order tests which later vindicated Mapako by confirming Macheso was the biological father of the two minors. He was ordered to pay $450 for his children.
Macheso’s daughter Sharon was not spared either as her husband Kudakwashe Munetsi was in the dock, barely two months into their marriage.
Sharon accused Munetsi of physically attacking and abusing her during their short stint in marriage. She later filed for divorce at the High Court where the matter is still pending.
Afro-jazz musician Dudu Manhenga was spared from doing time in prison for causing the death of a motorcyclist after the High Court quashed her 18-month jail term and substituted the sentence with a $1 000 fine.
Manhenga had been convicted for causing the death of a cyclist Graham Martin Millward in 2010. After her conviction on gross negligence by a Harare Magistrate, she was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment of which six months were suspended leaving her with an effective jail term of 18 months.
She however, appealed against the sentence arguing the magistrate had misdirected herself by sending her to prison rather than considering other non-custodial sentences.
Judges of appeal, Justices Francis Bere and Charles Hungwe, then convicted the jazz maestro of negligent driving ordering her to pay a fine and further slapped her with a five-month jail term which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that within that period she should not be convicted of any offence involving negligent driving.
The four-year-old diamond trial, involving Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi and former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chief executive officer Dominic Mubaiwa ended in September this year after the duo made an application for acquittal at the close of the State case.
The trial witnessed former Mines minister Obert Mpofu testifying in the $2 billion potential fraud matter in which Kurotwi and Mubaiwa were accused of misrepresenting facts that led to the formation of a joint venture between Marange Resources and Core Mining that formed the now-defunct Canadile Miners.
During cross-examination Kurotwi’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa said Mpofu side-lined his former permanent secretary Thankful Musukutwa and he did not invite him to attend meetings with potential diamond mining investors, in contravention of the laws governing the operations of the parastatal.
But Mpofu dismissed the claims arguing that if Musukutwa was not involved; it was his [Musukutwa] fault since he was the parastatal’s chief executive officer who had a mandate to know everything happening under his ministry.
The cross-examination took another turn as Mpofu was asked to explain whether he kept the minutes of all the meetings he held with the potential diamond mining investors from February to June 2009.
Mpofu said he never kept minutes of the meetings held during that period, but only took notes.
As the year came to an end, politics took centre stage and witnessed the ousting of Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leader Jabulani Sibanda, who was later charged with insulting President Robert Mugabe.
Sibanda was arrested last month for allegedly undermining Mugabe while addressing a group of war veterans in Manicaland province on October 27 this year.
Allegations against Sibanda were that on the day in question at Herbert Mine in Mutasa, Sibanda addressed an illegal gathering of war veterans at a disused mine shaft where remains of about 100 ex-fighters were set to be reburied.
The State alleges Sibanda went ahead and addressed the gathering although the reburial exercise had been rescheduled to a later date by Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi.
The State alleges in his lengthy speech, Sibanda claimed that Mugabe and his wife Grace were hatching a “bedroom or boardroom coup” through which they wanted to remove former Vice-President Joice Mujuru from her position.
The court heard Sibanda claimed that Mugabe wanted to use the alleged coup to remove Mujuru from her positions in government and Zanu PF and replace her with his wife.
It was further alleged Sibanda said he was not prepared for that because “power was not sexually transmitted”.
Sibanda’s trial is set to kick off next year on a date to be announced by the State.