HARARE magistrate, Tendai Mahwe, yesterday shot down several attempts to stall the trial of a Russian man, who allegedly obtained a Zimbabwean passport using forged documents.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Mahwe, who is now based at Mutare Magistrates’ Court, made the ruling when he returned to Harare for the case involving Steven Paul Sudgen.
Sudgen, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya, initially sought to be removed from further remand arguing that the two-month ultimatum given by Judge President Justice George Chiweshe for the State to re-open its case had lapsed.
Sudgen has two more pending applications at the Constitutional Court and High Court and he wanted the lower court to defer trial until the upper courts have ruled on his applications.
But, Mahwe shot down the application saying: “The two months expired due to State negligence and attempts to delay proceedings. The defence made several frivolous applications as a tactic to ensure that the two months expire.
These were deliberate and calculated moves and defence is not taking proceedings seriously. Trial should proceed.”
Rubaya then applied to have the matter stood down by 15 minutes to allow Sugden’s lawyer of choice, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, to appear, but Mahwe again dismissed the application.
This led Rubaya to recuse himself from the case in protest.
“It is a sad day for justice. You shot down all the applications I made. I have to recuse myself,” he said.
As Rubaya walked out of the courtroom, Sudgen made another application for postponement saying he needed 10 days to look for another lawyer.
“This is a technical and complicated matter. Rubaya walked away and I cannot defend myself. I require the services of another lawyer,” he said.
Mahwe again dismissed the application, saying his lawyer chose not to attend and the court adjourned for five minutes.
After the break, Sugden came back with another lawyer, Rungano Mahuni, who made another application for postponement for a further month saying he needed to familiarise with the case, as the case documents consist of more than 1 000 pages.
Mahwe dismissed that application again, prompting Mahuni to give notice for and application for review of proceedings at the High Court. The case is expected to continue today.
Sugden is accused of using fake documents to obtain a Zimbabwean passport.