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'High Court clogged with high-profile graft cases'

by Staff reporter
08 Nov 2021 at 05:29hrs | Views
NATIONAL Prosecution Authority (NPA) chief law officer Michael Reza says several bigwigs facing graft charges were resorting to taking their cases to the High Court in a bid to delay prosecution.

Reza told an online media platform during a discussion, Are whistleblowers safe in Zimbabwe?, that as a result, the High Court was now clogged with high-profile corruption cases.

This follows complaints that some corruption cases involving high-profile people were taking long to be finalised, resulting in the accused bigwigs requesting for removal from remand citing delayed trials.

Reza said legal practitioners were abusing the judicial system to delay the trials of their clients when there was overwhelming evidence to secure convictions.

"It is not correct that we have been involved in many high-profile cases, where there have been acquittals. We have been involved in many cases which are still pending. However, they have moved from the magistrates courts to the High Court. We have an accused person who has six cases, but his lawyers have moved all of them when there is sufficient evidence to secure conviction," he said.

"They are all packed at the High Court. Those where there is not much evidence are at the magistrates court. Lawyers are not using the justice delivery system, but they are abusing it to ensure that their clients stay out from answering to their misdeeds. But I can say there is an end to everything. Some have appealed to the Supreme Court and will appeal to the Constitutional Court, but that will be the end."

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) commissioner for legal affairs Jessie Majome said the anti-corruption institution had a conviction rate of 59% which is high.

"From 2019 when Zacc was established, we actually have a high conviction rate. Of all the cases that we have submitted to the NPA since 2019, we have a 59% success rate in terms of the convictions we have secured. Forty-one percent of the cases had acquittals. Most of the cases are still pending."

Majome also said Zacc was considering paying whistleblowers to encourage unearthing of corruption cases.

Stakeholders in the fight against corruption have pressured government to expedite crafting and enactment of a law that protects whistleblowers for playing a critical role in exposing graft.

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe