Mandiwanzira’s trial in false start

THE trial of former Information Communication Technology minister, Supa Mandiwanzira on criminal abuse of office charges failed to take off yesterday after the State could not furnish him with court papers an hour before the court sat.

BY DSMOND CHINGARANDE

According to the Evidence and Procedure’s Act, an accused person must be furnished with court papers three days before the trial kicks off, but the State, represented by Michael Chakandida, tried to convince the court to proceed to the trial despite failure to comply with the rules

Chakandida said the delay in providing the defence with the court papers was caused by the police, who only gave him the docket last Friday.

But Mandiwanzira’s lawyer, advocate Brian Hungwe, said the State’s inefficiency could not be used to prejudice his client and asked the court for a postponement to January 28.

Hungwe told the court that the state had undertaken to furnish Mandiwanzira with papers in a “few days” on November 7 when he appeared for routine remand on November 30, but had failed to deliver.

“Defence has objections to the case starting today for the following reasons: accused was arrested on November 7, 2018; the assumption arising as a result of the arrest is that the police would have completed their investigations upon his appearance on the very day,” Hungwe said.

“This honourable court was advised by the State, and with all due respect, we agreed with the State that the trial begins on December 10. On that day, the defence was advised that the State papers would be ready within a week. Those papers were never availed to the defence until the accused person appeared for the second routine hearing.

“On November 30, this honourable court was advised that the trial will begin today (yesterday) and that the State papers would be available within a few days. Your worship, I don’t know what a few days meant. We only got the papers today (yesterday). To be precise, an hour ago,” Hungwe said.

But prosecutor Chakandida, of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit, said the delay was beyond his control as the trial prosecutor, but opposed to the matter being remanded to next year as this would violate Mandiwanzira’s constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable period.

Mandiwanzira is accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly engaged a South African firm, Megawatt Company, to provide services to NetOne without going to tender.

He is also accused of appointing his personal assistant, Tawanda Chinembiri to the Postal Telecommunications and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe board.

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