THE trial of now suspended Zanu PF Harare province youth chairperson Godwin Gomwe and six others facing extortion charges failed to start Wednesday after the defence spent the day filing postponement applications which the state described as delaying tactics.
Gomwe, 34, is jointly charged with six other party officials including Muchineripi Mupindu, alias Ginya, 36, Fidelis Ndaradza, alias Brigadier, 32, Haruwandi Munyawiri, 46, Hamphrey Madenyika, 29, Josephine Hadziindi, 59, and Norah Toronga, 38.
The group is accused of extorting $46,000 from 10 Glen Norah-based housing cooperatives using the First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s name.
The trial had been slated for Wednesday but Gomwe’s defence attorney, John Ndomene, then told the court that he wanted proceedings to be postponed.
Ndomene said he had since instructed advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba to take over, adding that Gomwe’s family had made that choice.
He said the advocate was however, not able to appear in court Wednesday as he had other commitments at the High Court and would only be available on July 9.
The State, led by George Manokore, dismissed the application arguing that the defence was only trying to delay the trial.
Magistrate Tendai Mahwe then ordered Ndomene to produce evidence proving he had instructed Magwaliba to take over. The court alsodemanded proof that the advocate was really held up at the High Court.
Ndomene failed to produce the evidence. Later, the lawyer then tendered an undated letter from Magwaliba’s office and surprised the court when he revealed that the advocate was at Mbare magistrates’ court not at the top court.
Court heard Magwaliba had been dismissed at the Mbare courts around 9 am but did not make an effort to show up at Gomwe’s trial at the city centre courts.
Mahwe then postponed the case to late afternoon saying the trial would commence with or without legal representation for the accused.
Magwaliba then showed up during this session only to press on with the application for postponement.
“Ndomene only furnished me with the state papers on Friday as such I did not have time to look at them and prepare defence of the alleged offences,” said.
“It is evident that I did not abscond myself in the morning wilfully. It is also evident that proceeding with the trial today jeopardises my client’s right to prepare his defence and be represented by a legal practitioner.”
Magwaliba added: “The charges being levelled against him are serious, the papers are too many, and the accused and the complainants are too many so I want ample time to recraft the defence.
“I’m not enticed by the one prepared by learned friend, Ndomene; lucky enough the defence has not yet been submitted. They say justice delayed is justice denied but the most uncommon thing many people are not aware of is justice hurried is justice buried.
“Why is the state trying to harsh these proceedings,” he said.
Despite State’s objections, Mahwe then ruled that there was indeed need to grant Gomwe’s defence more time to prepare for the trial and deferred the case to July 9.