Crimes and courts: Highlights of the year 

Source: Crimes and courts: Highlights of the year –Newsday Zimbabwe

Cases of fraud, drug peddling, corruption, criminal abuse of office, political violence, armed robbery, rape and murder dominated the roster. Here are some of the key cases that came before the courts this year.

Job Sikhala

He is being accused of inciting members of the public in Nyatsime to commit public violence, and also stands accused of another offence of obstructing the course of justice. A total of 14 other CCC activists in Nyatsime were arrested at the same time. Sikhala also faces allegations of accusing Zanu PF of killing Ali in order to divert police investigations.

Sikhala has now clocked more than six months in remand prison and has been denied bail nine times.  His trial resumed this December.

Sikhala was charged together with fellow legislator Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North MP) who is alleged to have hired trucks to ferry people to the funeral, which later turned violent.

Sithole and the other 14 accused CCC activists have since been granted bail after they clocked close to four months in remand prison.

In September, 2022, 48 000 people comprising Zimbabweans and citizens of other countries signed a petition calling for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s intervention in the continued detention of Sikhala, Sithole and 14 others.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s ex-wife Marry Mubaiwa

The 2022 court calendar was dominated by the trial of Mubaiwa over a myriad of alleged offences.

She was arraigned before the courts while very sick, and in most cases was  wheeled into the courts on a hospital stretcher.

In April 2022, Mubaiwa was convicted for trying to upgrade her marriage to Chiwenga without his consent.  She was fined for the offence.

Mubaiwa still faces money laundering and attempted murder charges.  Her trial is expected to kick-off in January 2023.

Recently, she was acquitted of charges of allegedly assaulting her maid.

Her court appearances attracted public attention, amid complaints that the country’s justice system is unfair as she was appearing before the courts while very sick.  At times she fell at court entrances.  Due to her illness, her hand was amputated.

Sybeth Musengezi

Zanu PF youth member Sybeth Musengezi took the party to court, challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power in 2017 after the  removal of the late former President Robert Mugabe in a military coup.

This resulted in his residence being allegedly petrol bombed by suspected Mnangagwa supporters.

The matter is still pending.

Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri

The trial of CCC Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe and activist Cecelia Chimbiri also dominated 2022.  They are accused of faking their 2021 abduction.  All State witnesses have testified in the case.

Despite the variation and inconsistencies of witness’s evidence, chief magistrate Faith Mushure dismissed their application for discharge at the close of the State’s case.

Their lawyers, Alec Muchadehama and Jeremiah Bhamu have filed an application for review of Mushure’s ruling to dismiss their discharge and the application is pending at the High Court.

Tendai Biti and Fadzayi Mahere

Interim CCC vice-president, Biti has also been coming to the courts in 2022 where he faces a charge of verbally assaulting a local businesswoman Tatiana Aleshina.

The matter was reported in November 2020, but the trial is yet to start due to several court applications filed by Biti.  CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere faces a charge of publishing falsehoods for allegedly posting on Twitter that a baby strapped on its mother’s back was killed by a police officer who used a baton stick.

Mahere, through her lawyer Chris Mhike applied for discharge at the close of the State case but the application was dismissed.  They appealed at the High Court and determination is still pending.

Former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira

Mupfumira’s case where she is accused of swindling the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) of thousands of dollars is still pending.

She was charged together with Barnabas Matongera, but he was acquitted at the close of the State case by Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna for lack of evidence. The Zanu PF central committee member is also facing another criminal abuse of office charge together with former Public Service ministry secretary, Ngoni Masoka. Two State witnesses testified in the matter but one of them has since died.

The matter was referred for trial de Novo (retrial), and is expected to resume in 2023.

Former Cabinet minister Petronella Kagonye and Francis Gudyanga

On June 10, 2022, former Cabinet minister Petronella Kagonye was slapped with a four-year jail term for theft of computers and criminal abuse of office.

She blamed her political enemies for her demise. She had her appeal thrown out by the High Court and the Supreme Court in September.

Another bigwig that was jailed is former Mines ministry secretary Francis Gudyanga who was slapped with a four-year jail term for criminal abuse of office after he paid himself board fees in a board where he was the only member. Gudyanga was ordered to restitute US$12 000.  In November 2022 he asked for an extension of the date to pay the restitution.

Former Agriculture deputy minister Douglas Karoro

In May 2022, deputy Lands and Agriculture minister Douglas Karoro was arrested for allegedly stealing Presidential Scheme inputs.

His trial began in 2022 with the first State witness testifying, but the matter was remanded to 2023.

Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena and Cottco bosses

In August 2022, Wadyajena was arrested for allegedly stealing Cotton Company of Zimbabwe funds to finance his truck business.

He is being charged together with Cottco bosses Pius Manamike, Maxmore Njanji and other senior officers at Cottco.

They also face moneylaundering and fraud charges. They are still on remand and their trial dates are yet to be set.

Obert Mpofu and Esidakeni Farm saga

Zanu PF bigwig and former Mines minister Obert Mpofu has been embroiled in a bitter Esidakeni Farm wrangle with its three directors, son of the late liberation hero Sydney Malunga, Siphosami, and Zaphaniah Dhlamini and Charles Moyo over ownership of the farm.

Last week, the High Court ordered Matabeleland North Provincial magistrate Victor Mpofu to stop the trial where the three Esidakeni directors face charges of unlawfully occupying the property.

Mpofu is contesting ownership of the farm together with party activist, Dumisani Madzivanyathi.

Other prominent people before the courts

Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume faces charges of trying to topple a constitutional government.

The case is yet to go for trial.

Former Mavambo Kusile Dawn leader Simba Makoni was hauled before the courts this year facing charges of violating the Exchange Control Act.

His company, Power Speed was accused of violating the Exchange Control Act, and the case was later withdrawn by the State.

Journalists arrested

Alpha Media Holdings journalists Blessed Mhlanga (Heart and Soul TV) and Chengeto Chidi were arrested for violating the Electoral Act in Chitungwiza, but were later acquitted of the charges.

Freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono also made several visits to the courts facing a charge of publishing falsehoods.

Alpha Media Holdings editor-in-chief Wisdom Mdzungairi and court reporter Desmond Chingarande were also charged for allegedly contravening the Data Protection Act after being accused of publishing falsehoods in a matter involving a story about Glen Forest Memorial Park, where company directors were accusing each other of burying people at the graveyard without a licence.  The matter is still pending.

New York Times journalist, Jeffrey Moyo was convicted by a Bulawayo court for assisting a foreign journalist to work in the country.  He was  fined $200 000.

Former journalist, who is now a businesswoman, Julie Barnes, was also arrested together with novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga for protesting against poor human rights in the country and the arrests of journalists, particularly Chin’ono.

They were convicted and given wholly suspended sentences and ordered to pay $70 000 fine each.

Mugabe exhumation

Proposed exhumation of the remains of the late former President Robert Mugabe from the Heroes Acre also hogged the limelight in 2022.

This was after Zvimba village head Tinos Manongovere had complained before chief Zvimba in 2021 that Mugabe was improperly interred. The move was vehemently opposed by the Mugabe family and the matter was later stopped at the High Court.

Former High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere

Ndewere took the Judicial Services Commission to the court challenging repossession of her service vehicle and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointment of a tribunal to determine her fitness to continue in her post.

The matter is still pending before the courts.

The late Perrence Shiri estate

The children of the late former Lands and Agriculture minister Perrence Shiri took the executor of their late father’s estate Sobuza Gula Ndebele to court over disbursement of funds held in the family trust.  They argued that the money was depreciating and needed to be disbursed.

The High Court granted their application.