via Mangoma fraud case: Mtetwa hits the roof – NewZimbabwe 3 August 2015
FORMER energy minister Elton Mangoma’s fraud trial was again deferred Monday with state lawyers saying they were not ready, inviting a robust put-down by the opposition politician’s defence attorney, Beatrice Mtetwa.
Harare magistrate, Francis Mapfumo, deferred the case to September 21 after heated exchnages between Mangoma’s defence lawyer and the State.
The ex-minister was arrested in May this and accused of ordering ZESA to illegally cancel a tender and award it to OK Zimbabwe while running the energy portfolio in the coalition government.
He was released on $1,000 bail with the trial set for last month, only for proceedings to be put off because the State was not ready.
The parties returned the court Monday with prosecutors again saying they needed another two weeks to finalise their investigations.
Unacceptable, said Mtetwa.
“The State, on initial remand, stated that it only needed one month to conduct its investigations but now, almost three months later, and the State is still seeking another extension,” Mtetwa complained.
“Prosecutors told court they were waiting for directions from the Prosecutor General’s office but it is clear that they have no clue what those directions will lead to and how long it will take the Prosecutor General to avail those directions.
She added: “There is no point the accused will be required to come back after two weeks as there is absolutely nothing before the court to indicate the trial will start then.
“We don’t believe the state has insufficient information and that’s why it has more than one month to finalise investigations.”
Mtetwa demanded that her client, who is out of custody on $1,000 bail with strict reporting conditions, be removed from remand.
“Those reporting conditions mean he can’t go about his life as usual. He can’t travel, he can’t go about with his business as he has to report every week,” she said.
She warned that State lawyers needed to wise up to the fact that, with the new Constitution, they could no longer continue to abuse the courts and treat them as an extension of the prosecutor general’s office.
“With the advent of the new constitution, I submit the State must understand that it is no longer business as usual where the State stands up and acts as it wills and the courts simply endorse what prosecution says,” said Mtetwa.
“There is clear distinction that the court is not extension of the prosecution, so they must not take advantage.”
She added: “There will be absolutely no prejudice to the State if the accused (Mangoma) is removed from remand and continues by way of summons.
“But there is every prejudice to the accused whose rights are being restricted by prosecution without even knowing when or if this will come to an end.”
Prosecutor Sharon Mashavira further outraged the defence by later indicating that the State had been served with a trial date but was not in possession of the necessary papers.
Mtetwa said this was a deliberate attempt to frustrate the process by the prosecutor as it was impossible for a trial date to be set when the required documents were not ready.
“The document is meant to be a record of when State papers are given to the defence for purposes for the trial date but the document before the court does not meet the rational of that form,” she fumed.
She added; “Long and short, no state papers have been given to the defence. The trial date is not a trial date as it will not enable the accused to prepare for his defence and I will submit that you (magistrate) have already made a ruling,” she said.
The magistrate still ruled in favour of the State, saying prosecutors would be given the time to complete their investigations.
“It is true the State has not been straight forward, but the court will give the State to honour its promise,” Mapfumo said.