Prosecutor Jailed in Muchadehama Trial

THERE was drama at the Harare Magistrates Court yesterday when state prosecutor Andrew Kumire was sentenced to five days imprisonment for contempt of court during the trial of prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama.

After Harare magistrate Chiwoniso Mutongi slapped him with five-days imprisonment, Kumire appeared unnerved by the ruling as he simply walked out of the court despite being directed to remain in court in police custody.

He was representing the state in the trial of Muchadehama, who ironically is also being charged with the same offence.

Muchadehama, together with Constance Gambanga, a clerk with the High Court, are facing charges of contravening a section of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which deals with contempt of court.

The charge arose from the pair’s alleged involvement in the improper release of freelance journalist Andrison Manyere and two MDC-T activists, Kisimusi Dhlamini and Gandhi Mudzingwa, who are all facing charges of sabotage, banditry and terrorism.

Proceedings opened with Kumire leading evidence from state witness Caroline Mapfuka, an assistant registrar with the Master of the High Court’s Office. Thereafter, Beatrice Mtetwa who is representing Muchadehama, cross-examined the same witness.

Denford Halimani, who is representing Gambanga, also cross-examined the witness. The two defence lawyers argued that there was nothing irregular about Gambanga’s actions since she acted within the normal scope of her duties.

However, matters came to a head when it was Kumire’s turn to re-examine the witness during which the magistrate cautioned him against asking leading questions. The magistrate told the prosecutor to rephrase his question after Mtetwa had objected that Kumire was asking the state witness leading questions.

Kumire defied the magistrate arguing that he had not asked any leading question. The magistrate further cautioned him against undermining the authority of the court. Kumire proceeded undeterred and grumbled his disapproval against the magistrate’s cautionary remarks.

 

The magistrate was forced to adjourn proceedings and summoned the prosecuting and defence teams to her chambers.

When the court reconvened, the magistrate slapped Kumire with five-days imprisonment for contempt of court culminating in yet another adjournment of proceedings.

Meanwhile, the trial was postponed to November 17. — Staff Writer.

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