Wednesday, 11 June 2014

HIGH COURT SUMMONS MAKANDIWA IN MURDER TRIAL

High Court Judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, Tuesday agreed to summon United Family International Church (UFIC) headed by Emmanuel Makandiwa to testify in the trial of seven MDC-T youths accused of the murder of a police inspector three years ago.

Inspector Petros Mutedza allegedly died in a hail of stones in May 2011 at the hands of MDC-T youths as political temperatures rose ahead of the then expected elections at the time.

Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa
UFIC would be subpoenaed to authenticate a video presented in court as exhibit by one of the accused, Last Maengahama, who in his defence, claimed he was not at the scene of the crime on the fateful day, but instead was at Makandiwa’s church.

Maengahama, who is the third accused in the high profile murder, with the assistance of defence lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) legal team of Gift Mtisi, Jeremiah Bhamu and Charles Kwaramba, played a video produced by the popular prophet’s church ostensibly to prove that the accused was in a church service when Mutedza was killed at a shopping centre in Glen View, Harare, on May 29 2011.

In the three-minute video, Maengahama is shown in a queue paying offerings at a UFIC service at the City Sports Centre, Harare.
Maengahama told the court that a Pastor Hwenga from UFIC, had produced the video as evidence to prove that he was not at the crime scene when the police officer was killed.

However, the state, led by Edmore Nyazamba of the Prosecutor-General’s Office disputed the authenticity of the video and called on the defence team to provide more evidence on whether it can be trusted as being legitimate.
“Matters at hand are whether the video was produced at the instance of the accused himself or that UFIC was behind this. We want to find out whether the shooting of the video was predicted for the part where it is played, it is only a mutilated part. What is also questionable about this video is that at its introduction, it is inscribed with the accused’s full names and again as state, we ask, under whose instructions,” said Nyazamba.

The prosecutor averred that such videos were subject to manipulation.
“Videos are subject to manipulation to suit the needs and conditions of those  who want to use them . . . all these issues need to be addressed first before we go forward . . . those who produced this video must be summoned to court and give evidence on why we have to use it as credible exhibit,” added Nyazamba.

In response, Mtetwa said the state should have questioned the credibility of the video long before it was brought to court.
“Section 279 of the Criminal, Procedure and Evidence Act clearly states that any piece of evidence can be produced in court by any person who is competent . . . the accused is competent and Section 70 of the Constitution says the accused has the right to provide evidence while in trial. That is what the accused has done. The state could have long back investigated the video’s authenticity,” argued Mtetwa.

Justice Bhunu ruled that the defence counsel should bring in officials from Makandiwa’s church to give evidence on the credibility of the video.
Earlier on, at the insistence of the state, Justice Bhunu ruled that a local mobile network operator, Econet, must also be summoned to court to authenticate a call print out produced in court by the accused.
Maengahama  and the defence counsel produced a call print out to prove that he did not make any calls from 1000hrs to 1500hrs as he was at the UFIC service on the day in question.

“My first call before the church service on 29 May 2011 was at 1030hrs before we entered the church and then had some calls after the service at 1516hrs.This evidence is shown on this printout. At our church, we are allowed to make emergency calls whilst in the middle of the service . . . but I did not make any on this particular day,” said Maengahama.

Nyazama then submitted that the defence must bring in an official from Econet to provide proof of whether the printout was authentic, a submission that was granted by Bhunu.

At least 31 MDC-T members were arrested over the murder case. All but seven were later acquitted after the High Court ruled that none of the evidence put forward by the state implicated them.
One of the then accused, Rebecca Mafikeni, died before the conclusion of the trial.
Maengahama and his co-accused, Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Lazarus Maengahama, Edwin Muingiri, Phineas Nhatarikwa and Paul Rukanda, now have to prove their innocence before the High Court or face the wrath of law.-Zim Mail