Ex-prosecutor loses appeal against bribe conviction
THE High Court has dismissed an appeal against conviction and sentence by former senior Bulawayo regional prosecutor, Admire Chikwayi, who was jailed for soliciting a $300 bribe from a complainant in a fraud case.
Chikwayi (31) was last year sentenced to an effective 18 months in prison after Mr Reuben Mukavhi, the magistrate who presided over his case, found him guilty of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Mr Mukavhi sentenced Chikwayi to 24 months in jail and suspended six months for five years on condition that he does not within that period commit a similar offence.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese sitting with Justice Lawrence Kamocha during the criminal appeals court ruled that there was no misdirection on the part of the magistrate regarding his approach to sentence.
“An officer of the court who engages in criminal conduct puts the entire justice system into disrepute and therefore sentencing the appellant to any sentence other than a term of imprisonment would, in my view, have been wholly inappropriate. In the result, the appeal against conviction and sentence is dismissed,” ruled the judge.
In his appeal, Chikwayi through his lawyer, Mr Kholwani Ngwenya of Mabhikwa and partners, argued that the State had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that he solicited for a bribe from the complainant, Mr Nicholas Khawulani Masuku.
“The trial court erred and misdirected itself in concluding that the State had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant (Chikwayi) solicited for or received a bribe from the complainant,” said Mr Ngwenya.
The defence lawyer submitted that the sentence imposed on Chikwayi was too harsh and induced a sense of shock.
“The trial court erred and was misdirected by rejecting and concluding that the appellant’s defence outline was inconsistent with his evidence. The sentence imposed was so severe as to induce a sense of shock,” said the lawyer.
Chikwayi also argued that his conviction on the basis of evidence obtained by means of a trap orchestrated by the state through police was a violation of his constitutional rights.
The circumstances of the matter were that on November 17, 2014, Mr Masuku reported at the Criminal Investigating Department (CID) Homicide in Bulawayo that Chikwayi had solicited for a $300 bribe from him so that his pending fraud case at the Tredgold magistrate’s courts could be set down for trial.
Chikwayi fell into a trap set for him as he received the $300 from Mr Masuku.
As soon as Chikwayi had taken the money, detectives entered and identified themselves before requesting to see the money he had received.
Chikwayi reportedly produced the trap notes which were under his phone on his desk leading to his arrest.