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State produces no charge sheet as Hopewell Chin’ono trial looms

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

State prosecutors are failing to give award winning investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s lawyers the necessary court papers needed for them to prepare for his defence ahead of his trial set for December 7.

Hopewell Chin'ono and his defence team that includes Beatrice Mtetwa
Hopewell Chin’ono and his defence team that includes Beatrice Mtetwa

Chin’ono is out on bail and is facing charges of inciting public violence in connection with the 31st July protests against corruption in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration.

On the 10th of November, the State gave Chin’ono a trial date and promised to provide by the 16th of November, necessary papers needed by the accused to prepare his defence.

After kicks and kisses, his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa confirmed that inadequate papers were only served to them on the 26th of November, 8 days after the promised date.

Chin’ono’s lawyers in a letter dated November, 24, directed to the Regional Public Prosecutor, requested for the following information in order for them to expedite preparation for defence:

1) The charge sheet fully setting out the allegations against our client.

2) All the tweets it is alleged disclose an offence and on which the State will be relying at the trial.

3) The State Outline fully setting out the allegations against our client.

4) All other witnesses’ statements.

5) Our client’s warned and cautioned statements.

6) All other material that the State will seek to rely on.

This comes after the papers Chin’ono was given by investigating officer Elliot Muchada on the 24th November lacked information on “why the other necessary documents were unavailable and where and when they could be collected.

“We have set out the attempts at collecting the documents in detail so that there can be no doubt that we have done all that is humanly possible to get these documents which ought to have been provided to us on the day the trial date was given.

“The provision of MUCHADA’s statement does not in any way make it possible for us to prepare our client’s defence as the statement is a political commentary on the same tweets. And it does not even tell our client the law it is alleged he breached,” Mtetwa said in a letter.

Chin’ono played a key role in exposing alleged corruption by Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins, in the US $60 million Dax Covidgate scandal that saw the arrest and dismissal of former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.

Instead of plaudits, Chin’ono was arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala and charged with inciting violence in connection with the 31st July protests.

Chin’ono and Ngarivhume spent 45 days at the country’s largest and most notorious jail, the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison before being released on bail by the High Court. Sikhala was also released by the High Court after spending five weeks. Nehanda Radio