ZimRights officials trial begins

HARARE - The trial of six ZimRights officials started Friday with principal immigration officer Godfrey Kondo leading as the State’s first witness.

The six officials Farai Bhani, Tatenda Chinaka, Dorcas Shereni, Leo Chamahwinya, Okay Machisa and Nunurai Jena representing ZimRights are being charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State.

In presenting their defence outlines, Trust Maanda who represents Dorcas Shereni and Leo Chamahwinya, said the state outline was prejudicial to his clients.

Maanda argued that the State outline breached the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Beatrice Mtetwa, who is appearing on behalf of Okay Machisa, said the State cannot ascertain what Machisa is alleged to have done, where, when and with who.

She also told the court that allegations levelled against Machisa are a figment in the imagination of the drafters of the charge.

The defence counsels for all six objected to state witness Godfrey Kondo’s testimony arguing that it was inadmissible.

Kondo had told the court that he had seen green documents of an A4 size and they were printed indicating that they were certificates of voter registration forms and they were serialised.

He also said that when he asked Bhani where he had acquired the documents, he indicated that he was engaged by ZimRights.

Bhani’s defence counsel, Tonderai Bhatasara argued that Kondo’s testimony should be disregarded.

“The evidence that the witness has presented is inadmissible as my client (Bhani) said he was tortured by Kondo. It would be highly prejudicial to the accused person,” Bhatasara told the court.

Magistrate Don Ndirowei sustained that Kondo had gone out of line and as such his testimony would need to be backed by evidence first.

It is alleged the four produced fake copies of voters’ registration certificates between May this year and this month, in a bid to defraud the Registrar General.

The court heard they allegedly used false names to complete the registration forms.

It is alleged Bhani registered as a voter in May this year and acquired a certificate of registration, which the ZimRights officials allegedly used to create several fake ones.

According to court papers, Chamahwinya would allegedly use the completed fake documents at ZimRights offices for their analysis, which they would use to criticise and tarnish the Registrar General’s office, it is claimed.

The court heard there was a possibility that the misrepresentation could cause “bloodshed or a chaotic situation in Zimbabwe” if the fake documents were only detected during the 2013 general elections. The trial continues. - Helen Kadirire

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