By Tendai Kamhungira
University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Levi Nyagura, who is accused of corruptly awarding a PhD to former first lady Grace Mugabe, has approached the High Court seeking to stop his trial before the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
In the urgent chamber application, he cited Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande and the State as respondents.
“This is an urgent chamber application to stay criminal proceedings being presided by the first respondent (Mazhande) under CRB 2287/18 pending the determination of an application for review currently pending in this court under case No.HC2653/18,” Nyagura said.
He applied for review after Mazhande ruled that he must stand trial over the allegations of criminally abusing his office.
“I have an inalienable right not to be deprived of my liberty arbitrarily or without just cause by virtue of Section 49 (1) (b) of the Constitution and by virtue of Section 50 (1) (e).
“I am entitled to challenge the lawfulness of my arrest before a court. These are the rights I seek to enforce under case No. 2653/18, which is pending before this honourable court. I aver that those rights are clearly established.
“If the interim interdict I herein seek is not granted, I fear that I will suffer irreparable prejudice. The Constitution authorises deprivation of my personal liberty where there is reasonable suspicion of my having committed a criminal offence. Without a reasonable suspicion my remand is unconstitutional,” he said.
He said if criminal proceedings against him before the Harare Magistrates’ Court are not stopped and the process is quashed on review, he would suffer prejudice, through waste of time and resources.
He further said there were high chances that his charges would be quashed through his application for review.
“I had given notice that I intended to challenge my placement on remand. I requested, before formally making the application, that the investigating officer be present so that a factual inquiry can be conducted. The first respondent directs me to put my request in writing. I do so, and also outlines the procedure to be followed where existence of a reasonable suspicion and the lawfulness of an arrest are put in issue.
“The first respondent hands down a ruling which dismisses the application I intended to make, before I have made it. The effect of the ruling is to close the doors for me to make the application on the same grounds in the future, for they now stand determined.
“The effect of the ruling is to deny me my right to challenge my placement on remand in what I consider the best way to do so.
“Therein lies the gross irregularity justifying interference in pending proceedings. Therein lies the grave injustice to the applicant,” Nyagura said.
The High Court is yet to make a determination in the matter.
Allegations against Nyagura are that sometime in 2011, he single-handedly accepted and approved Grace’s application to study for a PhD in Sociology without the knowledge of the Department Board and Faculty of Higher Degrees Committee.
The court heard that Nyagura then appointed two professors to supervise Grace’s thesis without the board’s approval.
Nyagura is further accused of usurping the powers of the UZ senate by single-handedly appointing examiners for Mugabe’s research in violation of the UZ Act chapter 25:16 and Ordinance 1998/99.
Sometime in 2014, Nyagura allegedly led supervisors and examiners to Grace’s Mazowe Estate where the defence oral examination was purportedly done without knowledge and approval of the academic committee.
According to State papers the oral examination is supposed to be done on UZ premises. Daily News