Mubaiwa convicted in ‘marriage upgrade’ trial, sentence Thursday

HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s ex-wife Marry Mubaiwa was convicted of fraud and false representation by a court in Harare on Wednesday following a trial which her lawyers said was a sham.

The charge related to a complaint by Chiwenga that Mubaiwa tried to upgrade their marriage from a customary union to a civil union without his knowledge.

The incident allegedly happened sometime in 2019 when Chiwenga was terribly ill, the cause of which was undisclosed.

Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube delivered the ruling but postponed sentencing to Thursday, when the former model can proffer mitigatory arguments.

The 40-year-old’s conviction follows a full trial during which 12 witnesses testified against her, including her former husband who asked a court to clear the gallery and the media on the basis that his testimony could have national security implications.

In convicting her, Ncube said it is not disputed that Chiwenga never consented to wed the mother of their three children, or upgrade their marriage.

The magistrate said Mubaiwa misrepresented the facts to former Judge President Justice George Chiweshe.

Said the magistrate: “So, if the complainant never consented to wed or have their marriage solemnised, can it be said the accused presented the correct statement to the first witness? I believe not.

“It is my considered view that the accused made a false statement to the first witness who believed that there was consent from the complainant yet there was none.

“False representation means presenting the facts which are not correct knowing that they are not correct. At the time the accused approached the first witness Justice Chiweshe, the purpose was for him to facilitate the upgrade of the marriage.

“Justice Chiweshe decided to link her up with the second witness, Justice Munamato Mutevedzi who was the Chief Magistrate then, since Justice Chiweshe was not a marriage officer. It is therefore not in dispute that when she approached the first witness, it was for the purposes of having the marriage solemnised.

“It is my considered view that there was overwhelming evidence against the accused person. The accused is therefore found guilty as charged.”

The trial heard that Mubaiwa first went to Justice Chiweshe and claimed they had planned to upgrade their marriage, before she was referred to Mutevedzi.

She also allegedly bought wedding rings.

Mutevedzi, the court heard, turned up at the Chiwenga home in Borrowdale on the date of the said marriage but was refused access by security details.

Mubaiwa pleaded not guilty, arguing that she had agreed with her husband to wed after the payment of lobola on July 2, 2011. The couple had been together since 2001.

Mubaiwa further told court that she was with Chiwenga in India in 2019 where he was receiving medical treatment and they agreed that they would have a small wedding on July 2, 2019, if they were back home by then.

She said they agreed on the rings designs together and later sent the designs to the Chiwenga’s jeweller.

Mubaiwa, who did not take the witness stand while relying on her written defence, said she then put in motion the wedding plans by calling Chiwenga’s friend and former workmate Justice Chiweshe and requested him to arrange with relevant officials for the wedding to take place on the July 2, 2019, at their residence.

She told the court that when they were back in Zimbabwe, the jeweller came to their residence and measured their fingers. The jeweller died before the trial.

It was also her evidence that when Chiwenga’s condition deteriorated, he was taken to South Africa for medical treatment and remained there beyond the planned wedding day, and as a result the marriage could not take place.

Mubaiwa’s defence team led by prominent lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa argues that she’s being persecuted by Chiwenga who wants custody of their children after their marriage soured.

The lawyers also accuse Chiwenga of manipulating the police and judiciary to achieve his ends.

Mubaiwa, who is currently hospitalised in Harare, is expected to appeal the judgement.

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