HARARE - A Harare magistrate has applied for authority from the prosecutor-general’s office to impose a hefty prison term on jailed lawyer Simbarashe Tsaurai, who is awaiting sentence on another fraud charge.
Magistrate Audrey Tarugarira intends to proceed by way of Section 54 (2) of the Magistrates Act because the sentence she intends to impose on Tsaurai is beyond her jurisdiction.
According to the law, Tarugarira cannot impose a jail term exceeding two years because she has not reached the prerequisite years.
“If upon conviction of an accused person upon summary trial or trial on remittal by the prosecutor-general, before sentence is passed, the magistrate is of the opinion that a sentence in excess of his jurisdiction is justified he may adjourn the case and remand the person convicted and submit a report to the prosecutor-general,” reads the Act.
Tarugarira remanded the fresh matter to March 11.
Tsaurai was last year jailed one-and-half years for theft of trust property by the then presiding magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe.
Chikwekwe sentenced Tsaurai to four years and five months imprisonment before suspending one-and-half years on condition he did not commit a similar offence.
Another one-and-a-half years was suspended on condition he compensates the complainants $35 000.
However, since he has been convicted of a similar offence before the period of five years had lapsed, it entails that his current sentence will incorporate the one-and-a-half years which were initially suspended by the court.
The State proved that sometime in January 2013, Hosiah Ncube went to Tsaurai, Tafirei and Chikwari law firm and engaged the lawyers to follow up on $25 000 he was owed by Jeffrey Joseph.
On February 28 the same year, Joseph deposited $25 000 into the trust account and engaged Tsaurayi in the matter.
Ncube inquired from Tsaurai about the money and was told to collect it from their offices.
When Ncube went to Tsaurai’s office to collect the money, he realised that the lawyer was on the run.
He subsequently filed a police report.
In June 2013, David Matanda subdivided his property in Hatfield and sold the subdivision to Happias Makoni through Beanpole estate agents for $25 000.
On June 16, 2013, Makoni was advised by Tsaurai that he was supposed to surrender the money to their law firm until cession of property was completed.
Makoni transferred $10 000 since he had already used $13 000.
Tsaurai then withdrew the money and converted it to his own use.