Ex-prose­cu­tor loses ap­peal against bribe con­vic­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda

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.

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