By Fidelis Munyoro
Bikita West legislator Dr Munyaradzi Kereke yesterday got a reprieve after the Constitutional Court granted his application to stop his prosecution on charges of raping an 11-year-old relative.
Dr Kereke had sought an order to stay the prosecution until his constitutional challenge to the validity of a statute allowing private prosecution is determined by the highest court.
Through his lawyer Mr James Makiya of Makiya and Partners instructing Advocate Lewis Uriri, he scurried to the apex court after the Prosecutor-General’s Office issued the certificate for private prosecution of the legislator.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku — sitting in his chambers — granted Dr Kereke the relief he sought and set November 18 as the date to hear Dr Kereke’s application.
“I want to confirm that today the Constitutional Court has granted an order not to institute criminal proceedings against our client until the main case challenging the issue of Section 16 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act,” said Mr Makiya.
“Between now and the finalisation of that main case, no one should institute any criminal proceedings against my client.”
In the main case, Dr Kereke is contesting the validity of Section 16 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The statute compels Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana to issue a certificate for private prosecution where he declines to sue.
But in the interlocutory application, Dr Kereke wanted the court to stop the girl’s grandfather, Mr Francis Maramwidze, from proceeding with his prosecution until his application is finalised. Dr Kereke said the Constitutional Court ordered Mr Tomana to issue the certificate before November 11.
He feared that Mr Maramwidze would rush to prosecute him before the apex court had determined the constitutionality of Section 16 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
He wanted that section of the law struck down. The legislator contends that the statute is a threat to his fundamental rights and equal protection of the law under Section 56 (1) of the Constitution read together with Section 260 (1) (2) of the supreme law.
It was also Dr Kereke’s fears that his constitutional application was likely to be heard next year, yet Mr Maramwidze was at large to prosecute him any time.
Dr Kereke is accused of raping the girl at gun point at his Mt Pleasant home in Harare in 2010, but Mr Tomana had been refusing prosecution pleading lack of evidence.
Mr Tomana was last week forced to issue out the certificate after the court slapped him with a 30-day term of imprisonment wholly suspended on condition that he complied with the court order within 10 days.
He had refused to comply with the court orders arguing that the independence of his office was being undermined. He also argued that he was using his discretion to ascertain whether or not there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Dr Kereke.
Mr Tomana also issued Telecel Zimbabwe a certificate to privately prosecute its key shareholder Jane Mutasa on charges of fraud involving $1, 7 million of airtime recharge cards. But Telecel is reported to be no longer interested in prosecuting its case.
The PG also issued a certificate of private prosecution against Vivek Solanki, who is facing charges of swindling African Medical Investments in an ownership wrangle over a hospital.