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MDC Alliance Youth Leaders’ Trial Off To A Dramatic Start

THE trial of MDC Alliance youth leaders Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, accused of faking abduction, was off to a dramatic start, after they made several applications, subsequently dismissed.
Through their lawyers, Alec Muchadehama and Jeremiah Bamu, the trio sought for the postponement of their trial on the basis of a provisional High Court order staying proceedings pending the hearing of their application for review.
This was after Harare regional magistrate Bianca Makwande directed that they be tried separately, claiming Mamombe was unfit to stand trial.
Prosecutor Michael Reza, however, opposed the application, arguing that it was clear that the lawyers did not want the trial to start, resulting in back and forth arguments and applications, including a bid to have the magistrate recuse herself from the case.
Makwande refused to entertain the matter, saying the provisional order had lapsed, before ordering the trial to commence.
She said she could not be made to hear an application which had been made before a superior court, adding it appeared reactionary.
Makwande said the lawyers should have followed proper procedures in making the application, way before she ordered the commencement of the trial.
The lawyers then made another application for the postponement of the matter on the basis that they also wanted to approach the High Court with a request to review the magistrate’s decision to “disregard” the superior court’s provisional order and her refusal to recuse herself from the matter.
But, the magistrate could have none of it, saying the application could be made at any other time, without interfering with the trial proceedings. Undeterred by the magistrate’s decision to have the trial proceed, Muchadehama made another request for them to be provided with further information relating to the case “in order to fully prepare for the trial”.
Among their demands that they made were for them to be provided with a list of people to which the trio allegedly communicated the falsehoods prejudicial to the State, the warned and cautioned statements, call records and the exact words uttered.
However, Reza said he had provided the lawyers with all the documents which they had requested and were signed for by Bamu.
Makwande questioned why the lawyers chose to raise the issue on the trial date, if indeed they had not been given.
“I am now doubting the seriousness of your applications,” Makwande said.
After Makwande ordered the commencement of the trial, Muchadehama made another application for referral to the Constitutional Court citing a “violation of their rights to a fair trial”.
Makwande dismissed the application again, saying there was need for prior notification to the court before the application could be made.
“You cannot make it without notice” and that it “seems like contempt”.
BULAWAYO 24

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