Harare Zanu PF youth provincial chairperson, Godwin Gomwe and seven others, who are accused of extorting over $46 000 from eight housing co-operatives in Glen Norah in 2015, using former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name have filed an application for recusal of the presiding magistrate.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Gomwe, who is charged together with other Zanu PF youth members – Muchineripi Mupindu, Fidelis Ndaradza, Haruwandi Munyawiri, Humfrey Madenyika, Josephine Handiendi, Norah Toronga and Moses Handiseni – filed an application to have magistrate, Tendai Mahwe recused from the case, saying he was involved in underhand dealings with former Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere.
In their application, the accused, who are represented by Rungano Mahuni, submitted that Mahwe failed to act as an impartial umpire in the criminal proceedings, which were before him and he bolstered the State’s case at their expense.
“The presiding magistrate had referred to the applicants as a ‘group of criminals’ way before the court had arrived at a finding of guilty.
This prejudged guilty of the applicants has led to them to entertain a reasonable belief that their trial is likely to be unfair,” they submitted. “There is reliable information that proves that Mahwe was unprofessionally associating with Kasukuwere to preside over the case with a motive of ensuring that the applicants are put behind bars for a crime the State dismally failed to prove at the close of its case.”
The accused further alleged that Mahwe was seen in the company of Kasukuwere and Agrippa “Bopela” Masiyakurima, who are their political rivals, and they believe the magistrate may have been unduly influenced to ensure that they are convicted.
The trial started in 2015 and the accused had filed their application at the time Mahwe had dismissed their application for discharge.
Mahwe is expected to rule on the application today.