Acting PG summoned to court

HARARE - High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi yesterday summoned acting prosecutor-general (PG) Ray Goba to explain the import of his request for the judge to recuse himself from handling the criminal trial of suspended prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana.

Tomana is facing criminal abuse of office charges.

Goba wrote a letter to Judge president George Chiweshe raising concerns that Chitapi must recuse himself from Tomana’s case because he was once a board member at the National Prosecuting Authority.

He also accuses the judge of keeping referring to Tomana as the prosecutor-general, claiming he is the legitimate bearer of that office.

However, Chitapi had no kind words for Goba, whom he said must not interfere with the due administration of justice.

He said there is no law that bars one to apply for the recusal of the bench but that has to be done through proper channels, adding that in any event Tomana is still the prosecutor-general because he has not yet been fired.

Prosecutor Jonathan Chingwinyiso, who appeared together with Malvern Musarurwa, Thompson Hove and Timothy Makoni, agreed that Goba’s approach was wrong and offered to make a proper application for recusal today.

He apologised to the court, claiming the acting prosecutor-general misfired.

Tomana’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu, who was instructed by Emmanuel Mukweva, breathed fire over the letter, instead demanding Goba to be summoned to explain why he should not be found guilty of contempt of court. Mpofu said the letter impugns the integrity of the judicial process and that it is vexatious and the most unethical letter that one can be exposed to in their legal practice.

He said the proper way would have been to approach the judge in his chambers and raise the concerns and make a formal application if the judge insisted on handling the case, as opposed to writing a letter, which was not even copied to the presiding judge.

Mpofu said Goba’s actions were deeply regrettable and shows that he is on a crusade of vilification and character assassination, adding that he was playing perilously close to the wind.

The arguments were made after Tomana on Monday filed an application challenging the constitutional validity of his prosecution, adding that he should have been tried within a reasonable time, as the allegations he is facing date back to 2009.

He argued the delay in bringing him to trial was inordinate and now needs an order staying the proceedings on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

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