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Mamombe, Chimbiri seek to block damning video evidence

by Staff reporter
30 Jun 2022 at 06:44hrs | Views
CCC members Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri, accused of faking their abductions in May 2020, yesterday mounted a bid to block the State from playing and tendering into court record CCTV footage obtained from shops in Belgravia, Harare where the two were said to have been spotted late in the afternoon of the day in question while buying food.

Mamombe and Chimbiri are appearing at the Harare Magistrates Court charged with communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State. They denied the charges when they trial opened before Chief Magistrate Mrs Faith Mushure.

Yesterday, the State, led by Mr Michael Reza, applied to play CCTV video footage obtained from Chicken Inn and Zuva Service Station by police during trial as evidence to prove that the two were in Harare at the time they claimed to have been abducted. He also applied to produce the CCTV footage as exhibits.

Mr Reza wanted to produce the footage through a State witness, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Muvhuro Mhlanga of the police cyber laboratory, who the State said was responsible for downloading them at Chicken Inn and Zuva Service Station.

Det Chief Insp Mhlanga told the court that he extracted the footage in June 2020.

Mamombe and Chimbiri, through lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, objected to the playing and production into the court record of the footage saying Det Chief Insp Mhlanga was not a competent witness the State could use to tender the footage as he was not the person who recorded the footage.

Mr Muchadehama argued that the footage could have been tampered with and doubted its originality.

He claimed that there was another footage which was played by ZBCTV in the past and another one which they were handed by police, leaving room for tampering.

Mr Reza, in his response, told the court that Det Chief Insp Mhlanga was the one who downloaded the original footage upon instruction from the investigating officer and was a competent witness.

"No one has even hinted that the images captured by CCTV have grains. He has been silently agreeing that the images were clear. There is no other person who is better placed to submit into the record other than this witness.

"He is from the cyber laboratory where the videos were kept and he was not part of investigating team. The duty of cyber team is to deal with cases such as these. He has no personal interest in how these cases go.

"He is a professional and he download these images from instructions from investigating officer and he secured originals of videos. That is his job," he said.

Mr Reza argued the footage was not tampered with as it was being played in its original form.

He said Mamombe and Chimbiri's lawyer has been furnished with the original footage to prepare for the trial and has already viewed the footage.

"It cannot be said his evidence is irrelevant. The State persuades the court to take judicial notice that CCTVs are self-recording. They are different from cameras where there is a cameraman who is recording.

"My learned friend is saying all CCTV images cannot be admissible in court because on the CCTV there is no one whose job description is to record. It still remains admissible. What we have is original evidence in its original form and being played in its original form.

"Evidence of CCTV is properly produced through Muvhuro who said it was him who downloaded the images, which he handed over to my leaned brothers," he said.

Chief Magistrate Mrs Mushure will on July 5 decide on whether the State can play and produce CCTV footage when she makes a ruling on the State's application.

Source - The Herald