via Convicted Ghanaian gold dealer appeals October 30, 2013 by Charles Laiton for NewsDay
CONVICTED Ghanaian businessman Kingsley Atta Gansah, who was early last year slapped with a mandatory five-year jail term for contravening the Gold Trade Act, had his appeal against both conviction and sentence struck off the roll yesterday after the matter was erroneously set down for hearing in a wrong court.
The matter, which was supposed to be heard in a court which entertains appeals on both conviction and sentence, was yesterday set down to be head in a criminal appeals court prompting the registrar to inform the parties that the matter would have to be reset for hearing in a proper court.
In March last year, Gansah appeared before Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei and pleaded guilty to possessing gold without a valid licence resulting in his incarceration.
The Ghanaian was later granted bail after making an application for bail pending appeal against sentence.
He made another application for the release of his passport, which was again granted before skipping the country resulting in a warrant of arrest being issued.
In his heads of arguments, lawyer Admire Rubaya, who is representing Gansah, said he intended to change his client’s guilty plea.
“It is clear, however, from the surrounding circumstances of the matter that the guilty plea was not properly tendered and therefore entered. Appellant will on appeal apply to alter the plea to one of not guilty and move for consequential relief,” Rubaya argued.
“The honourable court erred in failing to appreciate that a defence may have emerged from the facts of the case that accused (Gansah) was not in possession of the gold in question as he did not have the keys and or combinations to unlock the safe . . . thus he was not in physical control of the gold.”
However, chief law officer Chris Mutangadura, who is representing the State, argued that Gansah was a fugitive and as such had no locus standi to be heard by the courts.
“It is submitted that the appellant (Gansah) has absconded from the jurisdiction of this court after having been given his passport pursuant to an application for alteration of bail conditions pending appeal,” Mutangadura said in his heads of arguments.
“The accused person defaulted returning to this jurisdiction and a warrant of arrest was issued against him. Therefore, he lacks the requisite locus standi to prosecute his appeal. In fact, the appeal must be dismissed without hearing on the merits.”