By Nyore Madzianike
The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira’s appeal against a High Court decision to uphold the dismissal by Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi of her application to have her charges quashed.
She appealed to the Supreme Court after Justice Pisirai Kwenda upheld Mr Mutevedzi’s decision to dismiss her application for exception to the charges.
The Supreme Court decision means that Mupfumira, who was represented by advocates Sylvester Hashiti and Thembinkosi Magwaliba at the apex court, will now stand trial at the lower court.
Mupfumira is jointly charged with former Public Service secretary Ngoni Masoka on allegations involving US$90 000 they allegedly got from National Social Security Authority, which they used to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser utility vehicle instead of a Mercedes Benz.
The duo is also alleged to have ordered the purchase of air tickets worth US$10 215 to attend a wedding in South Africa, before paying R113 559 for accommodation, without approval.
Mupfumira is also awaiting a ruling on her application for Mr Mutevedzi to recuse himself from handling her trial.
The ruling is expected to be handed down on Monday. Through her lawyer, Advocate Hashiti, Mupfumira in her application for recusal argued that Mr Mutevedzi had previously dismissed her other applications and so “has already formulated an opinion on the matter”.
She argued that Mr Mutevedzi had already established that she committed the offences, which warranted her further detention before trial commencement.
“He, therefore, has bias of the subject matter and has already made up his mind on the merits such that he cannot be a fair and impartial arbiter,” she said.
Adv Hashiti had argued that the outcome of the Supreme Court decision will have a bearing on the ongoing trial since it had already been set down for hearing.
In response, Mr Chingwinyiso and Mr Chirambira, said the application lacked merit and should be dismissed as no bias had been shown by Mr Mutevedzi.
They argued that there was no basis to believe that Mr Mutevedzi was conflicted, as he did not pronounce that she was guilty or innocent when he heard and dismissed her previous applications.
Mr Chirambira said: “Your Worship, the case laws relied on by the accused person are from South Africa and not binding in Zimbabwe.
“Also, these cases speak on a magistrate who has heard bail application and extensive information on an accused’s previous convictions. According to the State, these cases cannot be applied to the matter before this court.
“Also, trial has already started with two witnesses having already testified, so the recusal has been overtaken by events.
“The application is not merited, therefore, trial should proceed.” The Herald