Gweru magistrate, lawyer face probe

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GWERU senior magistrate Getrude Manyonyeso and lawyer Tonderai Chitere could have landed themselves in trouble after Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo recommended that they be investigated for possibly attempting to defeat the course of justice.

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The recommendation was made to the chief magistrate and Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) following a review of case HCAR 201/14 of stocktheft in which Justice Moyo, in judgment HB82/14, condemned Manyonyeso for sentencing Chitere’s client to a fine of $400 and a wholly suspended sentence of 12 months.

Justice Moyo accused Chitere of manufacturing evidence in court in an attempt to defeat the course of justice after his client Felix Mujuru had been convicted on his own plea of guilty when he was charged with stealing and slaughtering a bull belonging to Cephas Mukandi.

“Defence counsel then decided to mislead the court by manufacturing facts that were otherwise not part of the record and which were in fact, in direct conflict with the accused person’s own version on record,” Justice Moyo said.

“Such conduct by defence counsel must be condemned in the strongest terms. A legal practitioner is an officer of the court and it is an act of misconduct for a lawyer to deliberately mislead the court so as to defeat the ends of justice.” According to the judgment, Chitere submitted that there were special circumstances surrounding the theft of the bull and therefore the court was supposed to spare his client the mandatory nine-year jail term for stocktheft.

“Firstly he submitted that the complainant had been compensated by the accused. Secondly he submitted that the bull had been slaughtered by mistake by the accused’s employees and not the accused, yet accused had admitted in court before hiring a lawyer that he was the one who slaughtered the beast,” Justice Moyo said.

The Gweru Magistrates’ Court was then ordered to set aside the sentence passed by Manyonyeso and that Mujuru be given back his fine and be sentenced to the mandatory nine years in prison.

“The proper finding on special circumstances is that there are none in this case. The matter is remitted back to trial court for sentence to be passed in accordance with the law.

“Copies of this judgment should be forwarded to the chief magistrate and the secretary of the LSZ for appropriate action to be taken against these two,” the judgment which was consented to by judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha, reads.

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