Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
The trial of suspended University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Levi Nyagura, who is accused of illegally awarding former First Lady Grace Mugabe a PhD, has been put on hold pending the determination of his application at the Constitutional Court (Concourt).
Nyagura was supposed to stand trial yesterday following the dismissal of his application for referral of the case to the Concourt for lack of merit.
In his application for referral of the matter to the Concourt, Nyagura cited infringement of his constitutional rights to a fair trial.
Having lost the application, Nyagura then filed an application to bring his constitutional challenge before the Concourt bench directly in terms of Section 85(1) of the Constitution.
Representing the State, Mr Tapiwa Godzi from the President’s Special Anti-Corruption Unit said since Nyagura had filed his application at the Concourt, proceedings at the lower court should be halted.
“Accused filed his application for direct access and in view of that, when such application is filed, the court’s hands are tied. The accused person must be given a chance to have his matter heard at the Concourt,” he said.
Advocate Lewis Uriri, who was representing Nyagura, advised the court that he would not be representing him anymore.
He said he was recusing himself for personal reasons, which he did not disclose in court.
This was after magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube had notified Nyagura of his next remand date, October 22.
Adv Uriri was being instructed by Muzangaza Mandaza and Tomana Legal Practitioners to act on behalf of Nyagura.
Nyagura, through his lawyers, argued that Messrs Tapiwa Godzi and Michael Chakandida both from the President’s Special Anti-Corruption Unit, who are representing the State, have no authority to prosecute.
He said the Acting Prosecutor-General, by granting the pair authority to prosecute when they are not employees of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), was in breach of accused’s right to the equal protection and benefit of the law, as well as right to a fair trial.
Mr Godzi submitted that Section 5 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act gives the PG powers acting independently to issue authority to prosecute to a certain category of people that included any legal practitioner.
The court concurred with the State’s submissions and ruled in its favour.