By Robson Sharuko
The match-fixing case involving Herentals collapsed after key witness, Gift Kamuriwo, flipped and presented an affidavit saying the money he allegedly received from middleman, Oliver Chirenga, was never intended to induce the manipulation of the league match against Black Rhinos.
The ZIFA Appeals Committee also established that the Premier Soccer League’s rules and regulations did not have a specific rule that deals with the standard proof that should be used in such complex and serious cases.
The Students, who were found guilty by the PSL disciplinary committee of manipulating their league match against Rhinos, had their conviction quashed by the ZIFA Appeals Committee.
“Having gone through the PSL Rules and Regulations, the ZIFA Appeals Board could not find specific a Rule that deals with the Standard of Proof to be used,’’ the ZIFA Appeals Committee said in their judgment.
“In the absence of such a Rule, and considering the seriousness of the offence being faced by the Appellants; the Appeals Board was convinced that the Standard of Proof that the (PSL) disciplinary committee ought to have used in this case was that advocated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (in the case Arbitration CAS 2016/4650 Kulbi Sportiv Skenderbeu v UEFA award of November 21, 2016) — comfortable satisfaction.
“He (Gift Kamuriwo) was called as an accused person (by the PSL disciplinary committee). The charge was put to him.
“He admitted receiving money from Chirenga but he said that when he took the money from Chirenga, he had no intention of influencing the outcome of the football match between Black Rhinos FC and Herentals FC.
“He even testified that he did nothing to facilitate anything to do with the fixing of the match.
“He further insisted that he had nothing to do with the selection of the team, since it was done by the coach. In his sworn affidavit, filed as an exhibit, he stated under oath that he accepted money from Chirenga in order to fix him and he used the money for his personal use.
“No witnesses were called by the PSL Prosecution to prove the point which the accused, Gift Kamuriwo, was denying that he had no intention of influencing the match and neither did he approach anyone at Black Rhinos FC in order to influence the match.’’
The ZIFA Appeals Committee said the PSL should also have conducted their investigations and decided, at the conclusion of such a probe, whether they had enough evidence to go ahead with charging Herentals.
However, the league relied on a single witness, despite his affidavit denying he was involved in a web of corruption to influence the outcome of the match.
Instead, according to the judgment, there appeared to have been a determination by the PSL disciplinary committee to only concentrate on material, which they considered would aid the conviction of the accused, while disregarding any material which cast doubt on the evidence.
“If the PSL DC (disciplinary committee) regarded that part of the evidence as false, and proceeded to make an assumption that the match was fixed, based on what Kamuriwo did not say, then it follows that they should also have ordered that Black Rhinos FC should be charged for participating in match-fixing,’’ the judgment read.
“Moreso, if the PSL DC found that the said witness (Kamuriwo) was lying and was trying not to involve, or shield Black Rhinos players, then it follows that the PSL DC ought not to have accepted that the same witness’ evidence is true with regards that he had been given money by the 2nd Appellant (Chirenga).
“If the (PSL) DC concluded that the match was fixed, contradicting what the witness (Kamuriwo) was saying that it was not fixed, then they should have proceeded to charge Black Rhinos FC.
“Again, if the (PSL) DC found that the match was fixed, yet Kamuriwo was saying he did not influence that match, then it follows that Kamuriwo was lying when giving evidence.
“The 1st Appellant and 2nd Appellant argued that where a witness is found not to be credible, in one part, then the court is justified to infer that the whole evidence is not credible.
“The Appellants relied on the case of Goliath Manjala vs Sikanezile Nkala Maphosa SC 18-2016; Moroney v Moroney SC 24/3; Leader Trade Zim (Pvt) Ltd v Smith HH1311/03.’’
There was need for a thorough examination of the evidence which was presented.
“The ZIFA Appeals Board was convinced that the PSL DC ought to have taken such an approach to Gift Kamuriwo’s testimony,’’ read the judgment.
“If the Committee felt that he had lied in one respect, then his evidence should have been discarded as a whole. He is not a credible witness to be believed.
“The (PSL) DC was selective in its approach. It accepted the evidence from Gift Kamuriwo as true, that which incriminated the Appellants, in the same vein the (PSL) DC rejected the evidence as false, that which exonerated the Appellants.
“In our view, such an approach will lead people to think that the DC was biased against the Appellants. It also amounts to misdirection.
“It is trite law that where you want to convict on evidence of a single witness, the evidence relied upon must be satisfactory in every material respects.’’
The ZIFA Appeals Board said they based their judgment on the “Zimbowora S-7-92’’ case where the appellant had been convicted on three counts of contravening the Labour Relations Act but, on appeal to the Supreme Court, had that conviction set aside because the complainant’s evidence was not satisfactory in all material respects.
“The PSL DC should have sought corroboration of Gift Kamuriwo’s evidence. On the issue of the money produced as evidence, it was just Kamuriwo’s word against the Appellants,’’ read the judgment.
“There were no witnesses yet the DC had found that this evidence was not truthful in every material respect, there was no effort to trace the money to the Appellant.
“There was no effort made to trace the cellphone number which was alleged to have been used by the 2nd Appellant to contact Gift Kamuriwo.’’ The Herald