By Nyore Madzianike
The State yesterday lost its bid to have one of its own witnesses declared hostile in the trial of suspended police commissioner Erasmus Makodza on charges of criminal abuse of office, after the court ruled that the witness had not previously exhibited an adverse mind against the State.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Noel Mupeiwa ruled that Superintendent Chidhakwa Mugove had not exhibited any hostility towards the State in the build-up towards the on-going trial and the State had failed to place enough evidence before the court that warranted the declaration of hostility.
Having one of your own witnesses declared as hostile allows you to switch into the same sort of cross-examination mode used for witnesses of the other side. The State led by Mrs Tendai Shonhai and Mr Tafara Chirambira had applied that Supt Chidhakwa Mugove be declared a hostile witness after Superintendent Chidhakwa Mugove disowned contents of his warned and cautioned statement and the signature appended on it. Comm Makodza, through his lawyer Mr Tapiwa Makanza, had opposed to the State’s application saying Supt Chidhakwa Mugove was being truthful in his testimony. Mr Mupeiwa allowed Supt Mugove to continue giving testimony in the matter.
He chronicled how a Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission investigating officer Eric Chacha recorded his statement, which he acknowledged having been done freely and voluntarily. Supt Chidhakwa Mugove told the court that he was not influenced to disown his warned and cautioned statement.
“On December 19, 2020 I was at my office when he called at around 11am. We went in his vehicle where he was in the company of his wife Constable Dube. I suggested that we go into my office and he said he wanted confidentiality in his enquiry. We then drove off and dropped his wife in town and we went to Ben Love complex,” he said.
Supt Chidhakwa Mugove told the court that he restricted himself to roles of background checks, which he undertook before the decision to allocate Comm Makodza’s ex-lover and investment opportunity at the police farm in Mashonaland East Province.
“I indicated that my role was to carry out background checks and that my statement was going to contain that. He then said it will not be sufficient to make a statement.
“I narrated all the four pillars of our engagement with Maonei (Comm Makodza’s lover) as was stated to this court. He duly recorded a statement from me and I proof read it before he went to print it. It had all my IDs and four pillars of my engagement with Maonei. After he went to print, I proof-read it and left.
“After 30 minutes, the investigating officer called me over the phone and indicated that he had committed to insert the ID on his statement. I requested for a copy of my first statement and he said there was no need. I called him over the phone and he promised that I would come and sign. When I returned to the complex, I asked him to give me the statement before I committed to sign saying there was no need and I signed the second statement..
“After about 45 minutes, the investigating officer called me again and indicated that he had forgotten to show me a copy of a birth certificate reflecting that the accused was father and Maonei was the mother.
“I informed him that it was not part of my evidence. I only agreed to his request on condition that the investigating officer showed me a copy of my birth certificate. I proofread. I freely signed and requested a copy and he said there was no need,”he said.
Supt Chidhakwa Mugove told the court that Comm Makodza confided with him in a meeting that he had a relationship with Maonei and wanted to recuse himself from sitting on a committee that was to decide on her application. The matter is expected to continue on September 21. The Herald