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Mugabe son in-law case: Witness declared hostile

by Staff reporter
28 Mar 2019 at 20:37hrs | Views
There was drama in court yesterday in the unlawful detention case involving former President Mugabe's son-in-law that saw top lawyer Phillipa Phillips declared a hostile witness.

Harare magistrate Victoria Mashamba declared the senior lawyer a hostile witness following the application by prosecutor Mirirai Shumba.

Phillips had indicated a month ago through a letter that magistrate Mashamba refused to admit as part of the record, that she could not testify against Simba Chikore because she enjoys an attorney-client privilege with him.

As soon as she was sworn in, Phillips sought indulgence from the court to be excused from testifying because she is ‘conflicted' which prompted Shumba representing the State to seek a brief break to acquaint himself with the law binding lawyers from testifying against their clients.

"I have represented Chikore in various issues and when I arrived at the premises on the day in question, I had hoped to talk to both of them, I have relationships or former with the two parties involved so I am conflicted.

"Zakeyo was never my client but she is just a friend, or former friend according to her," said Phillips.

The State regarded Phillips as their star witness because it is being alleged that she was at the Zimbabwe Airways premises when Chikore unlawfully detained his employee Bertha Zakeyo.

Presiding magistrate Mashamba ruled that the information which was required from the witness doesn't fall under communication of confidential information between her and Chikore hence he should testify.

As the State proceeded to lead Phillips in her testimony, she became ‘hostile' and refused to answer questions that were put to her.

She said she couldn't remember an incidents from June last year when the fracas is said to have occurred and even rejected the statement that the State was relying on as hers.

Phillips's hostility prompted Shumba to invoke Section 316 which is when the State impeaches its own witness if it giving evidence totally different from the statement recorded by the police.

In the police statement allegedly belonging to her, she had indicated that she was at Zimbabwe Airways premises as Zakeyo's lawyer and had witnessed her being unlawfully detained by Chikore.

Representing Chikore, Jonathan Samkange opposed the application for impeachment of Philliops because the State wasn't caught by surprise by her hostility because she indicated from the beginning that she was not interested in testifying against Chikore.

Mashamba ruled that Phillips was a hostile witness and the evidence she gave will be deleted from the court record.

The matter will be back in court on April 4 when magistrate Mashamba is expected to pass a judgment on an application for discharge that Samkange is intending to file.

Source - hmetro