BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
LAWYERS representing former Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya, Mashonaland West provincial administrator, Cecilia Chitiyo and six other government officials accused of criminal abuse of office, yesterday sought permanent stay of prosecution, arguing that delay in preferring charges against the accused infringed on their constitutional rights to a fair trial.
The defence team led by Alec Muchadehama argued that Machaya and his co-accused were being prosecuted for offences alleged to have been committed in 2004.
The lawyers submitted that it was surprising that the State raised criminal charges against accused persons in duties they carried as public officials with the full authority of government, which is to date still receiving payments from the beneficiaries of the land parcelled out under the national housing scheme.
The lawyers argued that it was absurd for trial to continue under the circumstances and urged the court to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court for validation.