Prosper Dembedza Court Correspondent
The application by MDC-Alliance vice president Tendai Biti to have his charges of manhandling a Russian woman during an altercation outside the Harare Magistrates’ Courts was dismissed by Harare regional magistrate Mrs Vongai Muchuchuti yesterday.
Biti, through his lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, had applied for what is technically known as exception and the quashing of charges, arguing that the facts submitted by the State did not disclose any offence, but Mrs Muchuchuti disagreed and said the application by the defence lacked essential elements.
She said the defence did not disclose any prejudice Biti would suffer if he was to plead to the charges at the start of the trial.
Soon after the application was dismissed, Mr Muchadehama unsuccessfully sought a two-week postponement of the trial, arguing that he needed time to file a review of Mrs Muchuchuti’s ruling at the High Court.
Senior prosecutor Mr Michael Reza opposed any postponement, and that as Biti’s application for having the charges dropped had been dismissed, he was not supposed to plead to the charges. The State was ready for the trial and wanted to put the charge to Biti.
He said the defence was using a tactic of appealing every ruling by the court that went against it to evade the start of the trial and to try and make the woman who alleges she was manhandled surrender.
Mrs Muchuchuti dismissed Mr Muchadehama’s application for postponement, saying justice must not be delayed. The defence knew very well that when an application for exception was overruled, the charge had to be put to the accused person, she said.
Mr Muchadehama then told the court that he intended to apply for the referral of the matter to the Constitutional Court. He applied to summon Biti to lead evidence on why the defence wanted the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court.
The matter was deferred to Wednesday next week for continuation.