Relief for Chinhoyi rape convict

HIGH Court

THE High Court has overturned a 20-year jail term imposed on a Chinhoyi rape convict eight years ago.

In setting aside the sentence on appeal, Justices Tawanda Chitapi and Siyabona Musithu noted some procedural flaws during the trial although the convict Tirivashoma Chigwaja had pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl in 2014.

Justice Chitapi said the proceedings did not comply with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

“There appears to be no problem presently with the disposal of trials by guilty pleas in the magistrates. The procedure for trial by guilty plea must be considered as a fair trial standard which should be followed,” Justice Chitapi said.

“The magistrate must inter alia explain the charge and record the explanation which he will have given to the accused. Failure to comply simply means that the trial is not procedurally in accordance with the law.

“Such irregularity cannot be remedied because the constitution provides that no law may limit the right to a fair trial. The convict has been for the second time lucky in that his conviction and sentence must be set aside.”

But the judge said the Prosecutor-General could institute a fresh prosecution.

The judge said the fact that Chigwaja had already served part of the sentence would be taken into account if he is to be convicted again.

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