EX-SHABANIE Mine workers’ association chairperson Hilton Phiri and a colleague have been acquitted on six charges of contravening the Legal Practitioners’ Act after they allegedly purported to represent the defunct mine’s former employees as lawyers.
Allegations were that Phiri (42) and Tonderai Nyevera (30), an office orderly at the Zvishavane Magistrates’ Court, claimed to be legal practitioners and represented six ex-Shabanie workers against eviction from the asbestos mine houses.
Phiri and Nyevera denied the charges saying they never impersonated lawyers, but that Phiri acted on behalf of ex-workers as they were represented by Danziger law firm.
Gweru magistrate Tendai Madanhire ruled that the State had failed to prove the two masqueraded as lawyers and that if the accused had any case to answer, it would be a civil matter.
During trial, State witnesses had, however, admitted the co-accused persons collected money from them, but never pretended to be lawyers.
In his closing submissions, prosecutor Andrew Marimo said the two had no case to answer under the charge, but the matter was a civil case in which ex-workers were evicted from company houses after they had paid their money to the association.
Phiri and Nyevera’s defence counsel concurred with the State’s submissions.
It was the State’s case that on March 20, Phiri and Nyevera connived by preparing some documents, which they presented to Chigariro and Phiri and Partners and Zvishavane Magistrates’ Court purporting to be legal practitioners.
The State further alleged that the two processed some documents to stop eviction orders served to the former employees by Shabanie Mine.