Judge, accused give conflicting statements

HARARE - High Court Judge Charles Hungwe and murder suspect Jonathan Mutsinze have given conflicting statements on progress in Mutsinze’s murder trial, 10 years on.

The Constitutional Court in January ordered Hungwe to write an affidavit within 30 days detailing reasons for his delay in concluding the murder trial.

This was after Mutsinze filed a Constitutional Court application seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.

The charges arose in 1998, following allegations that he murdered Lesmore Kange and Willis Konje.

He reportedly last appeared before Hungwe on March 4, 2003 when the defence case was closed.

“I have become a victim of the system and have been in custody for 16 years of which the last 10 years I have been waiting for judgment,” Mutsinze said.

“This period of time surpasses any form of reasonability as envisaged by Section 13(4) and 18(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“I am informed that the reason proffered for my situation is that the record of proceedings was lost and the honourable judge was, therefore, unable to complete the trial by passing judgment. I am also informed that the audio tapes that were used to record my trial have since all been erased.”

According to court papers, Hungwe postponed the matter to May 6, 2003 for judgment, but since then nothing has materialised.

According to Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Hungwe claimed in his affidavit that he had convicted Mutsinze and all that was left was the passing of sentence.

Mutsinze, who is the founder of the now defunct Jerusalem Apostolic Faith Church, on the other hand, said he was never convicted and that the court had not dealt with any extenuating circumstances.

Chidyausiku said there was serious conflict of evidence, which needed to be verified.

“This matter is further postponed sine die (indefinitely) to enable the Registrar of the High Court to reconstruct the record in this matter, with the assistance of all parties within 30 days,” Chidyausiku said.

Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba had told the court that the state had failed to reach a common ground with Mutsinze’s lawyers on whether the suspect was convicted or not.

The original court document is missing and Nyazamba said the only remedy was to reconstruct the record of proceedings. He said the-then prosecutor Florence Ziyambi, who is now the deputy prosecutor-general had comprehensive notes pertaining to the case.

He said Ziyambi had precisely captured the trial, which would assist in the reconstruction of the record.

In his application, Mutsinze told the court that his liberty was now a constitutional matter, adding that the delay warranted him to be permanently absolved from the murder charges.

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