BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
THE State yesterday requested that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga be allowed to testify in camera in the case where his estranged wife, Marry Mubaiwa, is accused of attempting to fraudulently acquire a marriage certificate when he was hospitalised in South Africa.
Prosecutor Tafara Chirambira yesterday told Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube that the case was too private for Chiwenga to openly testify in court.
He said Chiwenga’s office should be respected to the extent that as a VP, he should testify in a closed court.
Since the trial commenced last week, eight witnesses have testified. Chiwenga, who is the complainant, would be the last to testify.
The VP, who is also the Health minister, is accusing Marry of fraudulently upgrading their marriage without his knowledge.
“The matter before the court is a private matter involving the VP of this country. I cannot overemphasise the importance of the office he holds. In that vein, the State makes the application bearing in mind the nature of the private matter before this court. We do not know what the witness will say,” the prosecution said.
“We can’t predict that, but at the same time, we do know the office he occupies and the need to protect the same. It is on that backdrop that the State submits that no prejudice will be suffered by either party, State and defence privacy is involved for that particular witness.”
Prosecutor Chirambira said even if the VP testified in camera, it would not affect the outcome.
”We thus submit that the order we seek the court to grant is not prejudicial to both parties, and it should find favour with the court,” he said.
Mubaiwa’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa opposed the application, saying no one was above the law.
“All persons are equal before the law. There is no need to give the VP preferential treatment when it is clear that the rule of law forms part of the law. This application which seeks to elevate the VP above all other persons ought to fail,” she said.
Mtetwa said Mubaiwa should also enjoy a fair trial in terms of section 69(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees her a fair and public trial.
“Witnesses, whose evidence is open to the public, are more meticulous due to the criticism they are likely to face,” she said.
Ncube is expected to deliver his ruling on the application by the State today.
As she left the courtroom yesterday, Mubaiwa collapsed at the court entrance on the stairs. She is currently battling lymphedema.