State seeks judge's recusal in Tomana trial

HARARE - The Prosecutor-General’s office has asked High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi to recuse himself from handling the trial of suspended Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges.

Jonathan Chingwinyiso, leading the team of four prosecutors who included Malvern Musarurwa, Thompson Hove and Timothy Makoni, filed the application, claiming the judge was once a board member of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), which was chaired by Tomana.

In the application for recusal, the NPA cited Tomana and the presiding judge Chitapi as respondents.

“Do you want me to look for a lawyer? Who prepared this application?” the judge queried the citation in circumstances where he is the one expected to make a ruling on the application.

Chingwinyiso said there was a perception the judge would not make a fair ruling in the case because he once interacted with Tomana during a time he was the NPA board member.

However, Tomana’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu, who was instructed by Emmanuel Mukweva, said the application was merely intended at putting unnecessary pressure on the judge, describing the application as a “dog’s breakfast”.

He said the application was unreasonable, because when Chitapi was the NPA board member, he had not been employed by Tomana, but was appointed by the State.

The court said it will advise the parties when the ruling is ready.

“The court has listened to the submissions with respect to principally the application for recusal…we need time to consider judgment, to assess the submissions made. Accordingly, you will be advised when the ruling is ready,” Chitapi said.

Tomana is facing six charges of criminal abuse of office, some dating back to 2009.

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