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Machaya must face trial: High Court

by Staff reporter
11 Jun 2020 at 07:52hrs | Views
THE High Court has ruled that former Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya, who is accused of criminal abuse of office, must face trial as permanently staying his criminal trial would be tantamount to conferring immunity on him.

Machaya, together with seven government officials, are accused of unlawfully diverting over 1 000 stands and offering them to a company called Striation World Marketing (Pvt) Ltd which in turn sold them to the public.

The land had been allocated to the Local Government ministry.

The ruling by Justice Tawanda Chitapi was delivered on Thursday last week after Machaya and his seven coapplicants approached the court for recourse.

This followed the dismissal of their application for permanent stay of prosecution by Gweru regional magistrate Charity Maphosa.

Machaya is jointly charged with former Midlands provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo, Shepherd Marweyi, Matilda Manhambo, Chisainyerwa

Chibhururu, Ethel Mlalazi, Honest Magaya and Rhory Andrew Shawatu.

Chitiyo is now provincial development co-ordinator for Mashonaland West.

In his judgment, Justice Chitapi said Machaya and his co-applicants did not raise any complaint in respect of an abuse of the court process, adding they simply "generalised the prejudice they alleged they would suffer if the proceedings were not permanently stayed".

"They (Machaya and co-applicants) averred that witnesses were dead and some had faded memories," part of the judgment read.

"It was also alleged that the applicants had no access to records. Others stated that they were not involved as they had not been deployed to Midlands province when the offences were allegedly committed.

"The complaints raised relate to matters which the trial process can deal with … there was no argument or facts put forward to show that the process bringing the applicants to court was punctuated by an abuse of process … in the absence of a proven abuse of process, a permanent stay of prosecution cannot be granted."

Justice Chitapi added: "The court must be careful and note that the prosecution of crime is a matter of public interest.

"An order of permanent stay of prosecution constitutes a serious interference with the public interest by conferring immunity on the accused from prosecution.

"The public interest is also a human rights issue to be balanced with the individual interests of the applicants," he said dismissing the application and ordering that the matter should proceed to trial.

Prior to the current judgment, Machaya and Chibhururu had previously filed an application challenging the dismissal of their application for acquittal at the close of the State's case which was again dismissed by Maphosa, culminating in another application for review by the High Court.

High Court judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda deliberated on the matter and came to a conclusion that there was no reason for him to interfere with Maphosa's decision since Machaya and Chibhururu still had an option to appeal against the magistrate's findings if they were convicted.

Source - newsday