By Tendai Rupapa
A Harare magistrate yesterday ordered the prosecution to put its house in order and provide Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Walter Magaya with a trial date on the next appearance, failing which she will free him.
Magaya yesterday appeared before Ms Bianca Makwande who further remanded him to October 21.
However, Magaya’s lawyers, Messrs Everson Chatambudza and Admire Rubaya, expressed displeasure at the manner in which the State seemed to be dragging its feet regarding the church leader’s rape case.
Ms Makwande ordered the State to provide Magaya with a trial date on that day.
“State, you are ordered to be sure to furnish the accused with a trial date failure to do so, will consider removing him from remand,” she said.
When Magaya appeared in court two weeks ago, the State led by Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa with the assistance of Miss Audrey Chogumaira, advised the court that investigations were complete and that the docket was at the Prosecutor-General’s Office for perusal.
The matter was remanded to today and the State undertook to furnish him with a trial date, which they failed to do on the grounds that the docket had been sent back to the police for further investigations.
“We are not doing a lip service Your Worship, clearly there is progress. The docket was sent to the PG on September 13 and we anticipated that we would have furnished them with a trial date but there are issues which arose when the docket was being perused,” he said.
“There is a statement from another witness which needs to be recorded.” The State’s application for postponement of the matter without giving a trial date did not go down well with the defence team, which did not have kind words for the State.
Mr Chatambudza questioned why the State was now talking of sending back the docket to the police when they had indicated that the investigations were complete.
“If the State has no case against our client, they should be honest and tell us. There won’t be any prejudice if he is removed from remand. The State can be ordered to proceed by a way of summons,” he said.
He added: “The last time we came, they said investigations were complete and never mentioned that there was an outstanding statement. We are left with no choice but to mount our application for refusal of further remand on the next appearance.”
Mr Rubaya also voiced his concerns accusing the State of developing “jelly legs”. “This is a court of justice, and justice demands that an accused person be tried within a reasonable time. The State has suddenly developed jelly legs,” he said.
“His rights should be considered and what is happening is not by his choice but the State’s. It is like he is being punished. The State should put its house in order because as it is, they are not ready to proceed to trial.” Mr Rubaya said considering that Magaya started appearing in court last month, his trial should have commenced.
“It is disheartening that we are still in the remand court when we should be in a trial court. If we do not place the State on notice, we will find ourselves in this court till Jesus comes. This is not a complex case; it does not need a rocket scientists to investigate the case. The State misled this court when it undertook to give us a trial date on September 15,” he said.
The defence then made a second application for relaxation of bail conditions. They proposed that Magaya be ordered to report once a month or a fortnight to the police. Ms Makwande said she would consider the application on October 21. Magaya is accused of raping a 25-year-old congregant. The Herald