Con-Court okays Kereke rape trial

HARARE - Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday accused Zanu PF Bikita West legislator Munyaradzi Kereke of playing games with the Constitutional Court, before sanctioning the parliamentarian’s private prosecution on charges of raping an 11-year-old relative.

“It seems the applicant (Kereke) is playing games with the court,” Chidyausiku said, soon after Kereke’s lawyers asked for a postponement of his court application in which he was seeking a stay of his prosecution after the Prosecutor General recently issued a certificate for the private prosecution.

Kereke’s lawyers Lewis Uriri, Webster Chinamora and James Makiya had asked for a postponement of the matter, arguing that they had not anticipated a number of issues that were raised by Olivia Zvedi, who was representing the respondents in the matter —  Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana, Attorney General Prince Machaya and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Uriri also argued that it appeared that the respondents had taken a resigned approach in Kereke’s private prosecution case.

But Zvedi and Charles Warara, the lawyer for the alleged rape victim’s grandfather Francis Maramwidze, said that they were ready to proceed with the matter.

“The delay in the matter would be prejudicial to the 4th respondent (Maramwidze). I am opposed to the application for postponement,” Warara said.

Chidyausiku then gave Kereke an option to have the matter argued and finalised, or to have it postponed on condition that the interdict granted last week to stay his prosecution would be revoked — noting further that Kereke had had ample time to challenge his prosecution when the matter appeared in the High Court.

“The interdict was made on the basis that this matter would be finalised today (yesterday). What prejudice would he (Kereke) suffer? He would be tried by an independent tribunal,” Chidyausiku said.

He ruled that if anything, it was Maramwidze who was being prejudiced by the delays, which he said were entirely Kereke’s fault.

The court was adjourned twice while Kereke’s lawyers sought further instructions from him, before they opted to have the matter postponed, while leaving the issue of the interdict in the court’s hands.

After adjourning briefly to consider the matter, Chidyausiku said the full Constitutional Court bench of nine judges had unanimously agreed to have the matter postponed, while Kereke would in the meantime face trial.

“The application for postponement is granted upon the following conditions: The registrar is directed to set down the matter for hearing on the next earliest possible date next term.

“The order staying criminal proceedings pending the determination of this matter be and is hereby discharged,” he said.

This means that Kereke, who had remained in the court throughout the proceedings but left in a huff before the ruling was delivered, will finally face trial over the rape allegations.

Tomana for long refused to prosecute Kereke, claiming that the parliamentarian had no case to answer — resulting in Maramwidze successfully applying for the legislator’s private prosecution.

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