via Justice Hungwe to explain 10-year judgment delay January 23, 2014 by Charles Laiton NewsDay
THE Constitutional Court has given a 30-day ultimatum to High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe to present an affidavit outlining the reasons for his delay in concluding the murder trial in the matter between the State and the founder of the now defunct Jerusalem Apostolic Faith Church, Jonathan Mutsinze.
Mutsinze, who is on trial for allegedly murdering Lesmore Kange and Willis Konje sometime in 1998, last appeared before Justice Hungwe on March 4, 2003 at which time he closed his defence case and made an application for discharge after highlighting the discrepancies in the State case.
However, Justice Hungwe postponed the matter to May 6, 2003 for judgment, but since then nothing has materialised.
Mutsinze then last year made an application to the ConCourt arguing his liberty was now a constitutional matter as it was no longer appropriate for the courts to simply release him from custody, but due to the longevity of the matter he was seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.
The matter, however, could not proceed to be heard yesterday as the full Con-Court bench headed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ordered the availability of an affidavit from Justice Hungwe.
The court order reads: “The matter is postponed sine die and the court directs that within 30 days: (1) the registrar files an affidavit on the status of the record in this matter in particular the stage of the reconstruction of the record, (2) the presiding judge furnishes to this court the reasons for the delay in the conclusion of this matter within the given period of 30 days and (3) the registrar of this court is directed to set down this matter on the next available date upon the filing of the above documents.”
In his application Mutsinze said: “I have become a victim of the system and have been in custody for 16 years of which the last 10 years I have been waiting for judgement. This period of time surpasses any form of reasonability as envisaged by section 13(4) and 18(2) of the constitution of Zimbabwe,”
“I am informed that the reason proffered for my situation is that the record of proceedings was lost and the honourable judge was therefore unable to complete the trial by passing judgment. I am also informed that the audio tapes that were used to record my trial have since all been erased.”
Mutsinze was represented by Tazorora Musarurwa while the Prosecutor-General’s (PG) office was represented by Chris Mutangadura and Edmore Nyazamba.