BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE THE High Court has acquitted land developer Felix Munyaradzi who was arrested on allegations of violating his bail conditions in a case where he is accused of fraud against police commissioner Erasmus Makodza.
High Court judge justice David Mangota discharged Munyaradzi after a Harare magistrate dismissed his application for exception of the charges saying the facts did not disclose an offence.
Makodza had accused Munyaradzi of fraud. He also caused the arrest of Munyaradzi saying he violated his bail conditions which stipulated that he must not interfere with state witness after he allegedly sent Shadreck Homera to convince him to drop the charges.
But Munyaradzi denied the offence saying he never interfered with state witnesses.
Munyaradzi accused Makodza of having a vendetta against him by causing his locking up at the remand prison for no offence.
Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro dismissed Munyaradzi’s application.
Aggrieved by Muchuchuti-Guwuriro’s decision, Munyaradzi approached the High Court for review of the matter.
However, Justice David Mangota set aside the magistrate’s decision and acquitted Munyaradzi saying he was not supposed to be remanded on fresh charges. Mangota said the magistrate was supposed to carry out an inquiry which was going to have the accused commute for his trial from prison.
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After the acquittal by the High Court, the complainant who is a top police officer allegedly influenced the court to issue a warrant of arrest on Munyaradzi.
It was issued by another magistrate Samuel Kandiyero.
But Munyaradzi’s lawyer Charles Warara challenged the warrant saying Munyaradzi had been acquitted and had no reason to appear in court.
Warara also told the court that there was influence in persecuting Munyaradzi who was recently acquitted of criminal abuse of office.
Kandiyero then asked for the reason of judgement to acquit Munyaradzi from the High Court.
However Mangota said the witness should have been questioned to verify if indeed Munyaradzi breached his bail.
“An accused that breaches his conditions of bail does not have a charge which arises from the alleged breach preferred against him. Practice and procedure do not allow that to occur to him. Such an accused is subjected to an inquiry which the court before whom he appears mounts in terms of section 127 or section 133 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and, where the breach is established on a balance of probabilities, the court which is inquiring into the circumstance of the breach of the conditions that commits him to prison until his trial,” Mangota ruled.
The judge said preferring a fresh charge against the accused was a serious travesty of justice which cannot be condoned, let alone countenanced.
“The procedure which the magistrate adopted was akin to the act of putting the cart before the horse.”
He said the magistrate misdirected herself in an unconscionable manner vis-a-vis the applicant’s alleged breach of his bail conditions.
“The proceedings and the decision of the court of the magistrate of 20 March, 2021 be and are hereby quashed. Each party shall pay its own costs,” Mangota ruled.