THE trial of four suspected fraudsters accused of swindling Walter Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries of $116 000 in a botched car import deal stalled yesterday after one of the accused applied to the High Court to review the magistrate’s dismissal of his application for discharge at the close of the State case.
Harare businessman Upenyu Mashangwa and his three alleged accomplices – Cosmas Mushininga, Kudakwashe Larry Mapfumo and Clifford Tinashe Gonde – are being charged with fraud or alternatively smuggling and failure to pay import duty for the vehicle in question.
Mashangwa’s stand-in lawyer, Dumisani Mthombeni told the court that they had applied to the High Court to have the magistrate’s decision reviewed and the matter was set for hearing yesterday. “We apply for a postponement of the trial after the High Court set down for the application for a review in the matter of Mashangwa, yourself and the Prosecutor-General,” he said.
Regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa is presiding over the matter.
“We have been told the case record is now before you for proofreading. We, therefore, seek a postponement for four weeks from now to allow the matter to be finalised,” Mthombeni said.
Prosecutor Michael Reza consented to the application.
Mupeiwa then remanded the case to March 31 for continuation of trial.
Mupeiwa last December dismissed Mashangwa’s application for discharge after the close of the State case. Mashangwa had argued that the evidence led was not sufficient to place him on his defence.
However, the magistrate then ruled that despite the inconsistencies among the witnesses, he was of the opinion that their evidence was believable and the four should be put to their defence.
Meanwhile, Reza has taken over the prosecution of the trial after Liberty Gono, who started the trial, resigned from the National Prosecuting Authority in January this year. Reza advised the court of the development.