RENOWNED author Tsitsi Dangarembga has dragged Harare magistrate Trynos Wutawashe to the High Court challenging his decision to try her in the Anti -Corruption Court when her matter “has nothing to do with corruption”.
Dangarembga and her co-defendant Julie Gabriel Barnes, accused of violating Covid-19 regulations, are arguing that Wutawashe misdirected himself by allowing the State to use a non-existent law.
It is alleged that on July 31, 2020, police received a tipoff that Dangarembga and Barnes were demonstrating at corner Whitwell and Borrowdale Roads.
Police found the duo demonstrating with placards, and this, according to the State, was in contravention of the Covid-19 regulations.
In a High Court application, Dangarembga and Barnes cited Wutawashe as the first respondent, Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission as the second and third respondents, respectively.
“For some unexplained reasons, on September 24, 2020 court officials working in cahoots with prosecutors, transferred the main matter of the State versus Tsitsi Dangarembga and another from the ordinary courts to the widely dreaded Anti-Corruption Court,” stated Dangarembga in her founding affidavit.
“Through our legal counsel, we objected to the placement of our simple protest case in an Anti-Corruption Court when we had not committed any act of corruption whatsoever.”
In their submissions, the applicants, represented by Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook, stated that Section 4 (1) (a) of Statutory Instrument 77/20 of the Covid-19 regulations was not supported by any specific law.
They argued that although Wutawashe acknowledged that the State had instituted the proceedings on the basis of a non-existent law, instead of invalidating the fatally defective charge, he only censured the State.
“While the record shows that the second count (of violating Covid-19 regulations) was introduced by the police at the last minute just before the applicants were taken to court for their initial remand after they had been informed of totally different charges on being cautioned,” the applicants argued, “the magistrate condoned the conduct of the police through dismissing the application.”
The applicants stated that Wutawashe breached their fundamental rights by failing to follow the long-established procedures of criminal law under the legal system.
Last year, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono challenged appearing in the Anti-Corruption Court on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice arguing that the allegations had nothing to do with corruption.
Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa, however, dismissed the application.