Zvikomborero Parafini, Court Reporter
THE trial of former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko failed to kick off once again yesterday after his lawyer applied for excerption without notice.
The trial was set to kick off at 9am before senior regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya but only kicked off at 11am with Mphoko’s lawyer Zibusiso Ncube advising the court that he had had a puncture on his way from Bulawayo.
The State, led by Acting Prosecutor General Nelson Mutsonziwa, advised the court that he had received a notice from Mphoko’s defence prior to yesterday’s appearance, to the effect that they were going to seek a postponement.
“State had prepared to oppose that application and what has happened is that we have been ambushed with a notice of exception to the charge two minutes ago right before these proceedings, such conduct is unethical and should not be condoned,” said Mutsonziwa.
In response, Ncube said giving notice was just courtesy and that there was no law binding him to give notice.
“The State hasn’t drawn us to any law that I have breached, I prepared the exception in terms of Section 179 and not in violation of any law that I know of,” said Ncube.
Magistrate Mujaya castigated Ncube and said the State just as he is, is entitled to notice at a reasonable time and it was common law that reasonable time should be given to the other party to prepare.
Subsequently, the matter was remanded to today where both counsels are expected to argue on the matter.
Mphoko is accused of ordering the illegal release of two ZINARA top officials Davison Norupiri and Juma who had been arrested over corruption allegations at Avondale Police Station in 2016 and were waiting to appear in court the next day.
The State further alleges that on the same day at around 6PM, Mphoko, who was at the time the Acting President, stormed the police station and criminally abused his duty as a public officer by ordering the immediate release of Juma and Norupiri from lawful police custody.
The Officer-in-Charge stood his ground challenging the unlawful instruction before he later complied with Mphoko’s order under duress and released the two men.
Mphoko drove away with them in his car.
When Zacc officials went to Avondale Police Station on the following day intending to take Juma and Norupiri to court, they discovered that police had released them acting on Mphoko’s orders.