Mphoko trial deferred over missing information



THE trial of former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has been pushed to April 6 after the State provided him with a transcribed court record with missing information critical for him to prepare his defence.

Mphoko is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly released two Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) officials arrested for corruption by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) in 2016.

Mphoko’s lawyers Thembinkosi Magwaliba and Zibusiso Ncube had requested the State to provide them with a transcribed record of proceedings from the initial stage to the time they took over the client from advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara.

But the State only supplied Magwaliba with transcripts of proceedings when he took over and left the information on proceedings when Mphoko was being represented by Zhuwarara.

Mphoko had alleged in the previous remand that the presiding magistrate in the case, Hosea Mujaya had violated his constitutional rights by forcing him to appear in court on Saturday well knowing that he was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Mujaya then proposed the matter to be heard on Sunday while refusing to postpone the matter saying the court was not a remand court where cases are postponed while waiting for completion of investigations.

The matter was later postponed after the State and defence went to the magistrate’s chambers.

Mphoko had also complained that Mujaya had dismissed all four court applications he had filed saying he was not being fair.

“We want to use the three rulings for the purpose of approaching the ConCourt and we are also seeking an interdict of the trial pending the finalisation of the matter at ConCourt. The application we are making is not one way, but ConCourt does not entertain applications without a transcribed record,” Ncube said at that time.

Magwaliba yesterday asked the court to go into chambers to allow them to discuss the contents of the record which he alleged was missing from the record.

He told the court that he could not proceed with the matter until the complete transcribed record was availed to him so that he could know which court application to make.

Mphoko had also filed an application for an exception which is expected to be heard on April 6 for oral submissions.

The State, represented by Michael Reza, Lovert Masuku and Andrew Kumire, then consented to the postponement saying the transcribed information must be given to the defence for them to prepare for the matter.

It is the State case that on July 14, 2016, Zacc officers went to Avondale Police Station to pick up the accused persons for court appearance, but discovered that the VP had since ordered the pair’s unlawful release.

The State alleges that Mphoko acted inconsistent with his duties in releasing the duo and that he also showed favour to them in the process.