State witnesses interfered with: Goba

HARARE - Prosecutor-General (PG) Ray Goba has sensationally claimed that witnesses were being interfered with by accused persons in a bid to jeopardise the State’s case against them.

Speaking at the official opening of the anti-corruption courts in Harare on Thursday last week, the PG called on government to tighten legislative frameworks for witness protection to avoid interference.

“At present, comprehensive witness protection programmes do not exist in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The lack of such programmes renders witnesses vulnerable to bribery, intimidation and violence to prevent them from giving testimony through the instillation of fear and the temptation of money,” he added.

Goba also revealed that some crafty lawyers were engaging in practices meant to fish out names of witnesses, for example, through claiming that a case should not proceed on account of lack of witnesses all in a bid to have prosecutors reveal some protected information.

He said such practices expose whistle-blowers, informants and witnesses to interference thus justifying the need for tighter witness protection legislation.

Goba urged prosecutors to be vigilant and not to reveal information that may bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

“A crime is always (a) crime for the State whether detected through a formal report or complaints filed at the charge office, or through an informer, whistle blower or an audit. The State is the government representing the public who is collectively offended against through conduct that the community regards as criminal whether at common law or through legislation passed by Parliament,” he said.

The PG spoke as he faces accusation of interfering with a witness himself.

This comes as a woman who sensationally accused Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) founder Walter Magaya of rape wants Goba to be hauled before the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) for forcing her to testify against the cleric despite her withdrawal of the case.

While Goba did not specifically mention this case, the timing of his remarks could be telling.

In the case between Petronella Donhodzo Mandaza and the PHD founder, Goba has subpoenaed the latter despite her “confession” that she was never raped nor forced to terminate a pregnancy by Magaya.

In an application filed at the High Court, Mandaza wants an order excusing her from attending court today as a witness or any other date and has even sought Goba to be censured by the LSZ for insisting to pursue the case.

“Before he was indicted for trial, I made a clean breast and indicated to the second respondent (Magaya) that I had falsely accused him of raping me. I wish to make it categorically clear that I was never raped by the second respondent, neither was I forced to terminate any pregnancy.

“As a matter of fact, I have never been pregnant all my life. The allegations are false and I cannot give evidence in their support. It is totally against my conscience and unsafe for me to aid politicians and rival religious leaders preferred by those politicians in their fight against second respondent. I have had my Damascene moment and I refuse to be used,” she said in the court papers.

Mandaza further argues: “The subpoena is irregular and a total invalidity. I am also not prepared to give false testimony. I regret I cannot quench first respondent’s illegitimate thirst.”

She went on to accuse Goba of trying to force her to commit perjury and blasted him arguing that during their correspondence he sounded incoherent.

“He has chosen to become a tool of use in the hands of certain criminally-minded people. He, too, is behaving like an outlaw, totally unworthy of the high office that he occupies,” she said.

Through his lawyer Thabani Mpofu, Magaya insists that he cannot be tried for rape since the complainant who was the only witness, had voluntarily withdrawn the case.

Comments (1)

Supposing she lied in the first place (which i doubt), what was the purposing for lying. was it not fueled by of greed? why did she withdraw the case, is it not because she got some money, and she is interfering with the course of justice. For the of other girls (who may not be as greedy as this girl), let the court establish if she lied or not, and why? In addition to all these legal issue, what about the state expenses (time and money), when the state looked at the case. Surely, it can be business as usual. You report something, you get paid, and you withdraw without some consenquencies. late the state leave Magaya and try this woman for lying.

prof - 4 April 2018

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