State accuses CCC members of delaying trial

Source: State accuses CCC members of delaying trial | Herald (Crime)

Joana Mamombe

Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter

THE State yesterday accused five CCC members of attempting to use a battery of applications in the middle of their hearings to delay their trial on charges of staging an illegal demonstration during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The State led by Mr Tafara Chirambira and Miss Polite Muzamani made the remarks after Joana Mamombe, Stanley Manyenga, Cecilia Chimbiri, Lovejoy Chitengu and Makomborero Haruzivishe yesterday made an application seeking a stay of proceedings pending a High Court determination on their application for review of the decision by regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere to dismiss their application for exception to the charges.

Mr Manwere threw out their application in January this year.

The five activists allegedly staged an illegal demonstration in Warren Park 1, Harare in May 2020.

In their application made by lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, they argued that the dismissal was unreasonable and was actuated by bias and so they wanted to apply to have it set aside by the High Court.

“They have since filed an application for review of the court’s decision at the High Court under HC21/22,” said Mr Muchadehama.

“The basis of that application is that your decision to dismiss their application was unreasonable. It will not be prudent to proceed with trial which is being challenged at the superior court.”

Mr Muchadehama argued that there were high chances of success in their application.

Mr Chirambira, in opposing the five’s application, said it was one of the ways they were employing to stall the trial’s progress.

“The State is opposed to the application made in terms of Section 165,” he said.

“Precedent suggest that the mere noting of a review at the High Court does not stop trial proceedings, the reason being that the two processes can run concurrently.”

Mr Chirambira said trial proceedings could not be stopped by merely filing an application for review at the High Court, but only when there was good cause and the five needed to show good cause for an adjournment.

He argued that the High Court encouraged the magistrates’ courts to look at prospects of success for such review when making their determinations.

“The High Court encourages the courts to look at the prospects of success for such a review and the prejudice that may be suffered,” said Mr Charambira. “And in doing that, Your Worship Justice Chinamhora reminds the lower courts that the High Court will seldom interfere in unterminated proceedings of the lower court and in other words, for the accused to succeed in their review application, it will need to be shown that your decision that they are contesting is grossly unreasonable and completely wrong.

“It will not be enough for them to simply criticise it because it is a different perspective. The implication being that chances of success in getting the High Court to interfere with your decision are very minimal.”

The State also questioned the timing when the five activists sought to have the ruling be reviewed and asked why they failed to mount the application soon after the decision was made.

“The decision being reviewed is plus or minus four months old and subsequent to that, we have appeared before this court thrice and no issues were raised about the postponement. Is this not a delaying tactic?” he said.

Mr Manwere is expected to make a ruling on May 16.

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