Nyagura challenges prosecution order

HARARE - University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Levi Nyagura has approached the High Court, seeking to quash Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande's ruling in which she said the educator must be prosecuted for corruptly awarding a PhD to former first lady Grace Mugabe.

Nearly a fortnight ago, Mazhande ruled that Nyagura — who is being charged with criminal abuse of office — must stand trial for the offence, after throwing out his challenge for prosecution.

Mazhande and the State are cited as respondents in the application.

However, Nyagura in his High Court application said the magistrate was misdirected and her ruling must be set aside.

“This is an application for review of unterminated criminal proceedings of the Magistrates’ Court in case number CRB 2287/18 being presided over by the first respondent (Mazhande). I am asking this court to exercise its review powers because the first respondent adopted a grossly irregular procedure in determining whether my arrest was lawful and there was reasonable suspicion warranting my lawful placement on remand.

“The first respondent’s plainly premature ruling seriously violates my constitutional rights as guaranteed in Section 49 (1) (b) and 50 (1) (e),” Nyagura said.
He said the manner in which the proceedings are being conducted are grossly irregular in that she made a determination in an application for refusal of remand which was not before her and which had not yet been made.

Nyagura also said Mazhande refused to hear evidence from the investigating officer.

He further accused her of failing to follow the necessary procedure when placement on remand is being challenged on the ground that the investigating officer had no reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed and therefore effected an unlawful arrest.

“I aver that this gross irregularity in the proceedings ought to be put right. The effect of first respondent’s ruling is to deny me my constitutional right to challenge my placement on remand. If the relief I herein seek is refused, I will be left to seek to redress if and when I am convicted.

“It may be impossible for me to show that a failure of justice has resulted from this irregularity. The prejudice which is apparent now may not be demonstrable after conviction,” he said.

He demanded the matter to be remitted back to the Magistrates’ Court, with a directive for Mazhande to test on whether there was a reasonable suspicion that he committed the alleged criminal offence or not.

Mazhande and the State are still to respond to the application filed on Wednesday.

Mazhande’s ruling came after the alleged complainant — Higher and Tertiary Education ministry — denied having association with the charges against Nyagura.

According to State papers sometime in 2011 Nyagura single-handedly accepted and approved Grace’s application to study for a PhD in Sociology without the knowledge of the Department Board and Faculty of Higher Degrees Committee.

The court heard that Nyagura then appointed two professors to supervise Grace’s thesis without the board’s approval.

Nyagura is accused of usurping the powers of the UZ Senate by single-handedly appointing examiners for Grace’s research in violation of the UZ Act chapter 25:16 and Ordinance 1998/99.

Sometime in 2014, Nyagura allegedly led supervisors and examiners to the former first lady’s Mazowe Estate where the defence oral examination was purportedly done without knowledge and approval of the academic committee.

According to State papers the oral examination is supposed to be done at UZ premises.

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