By Zvikomborero Parafini
Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s application for change of trial venue from Harare to Bulawayo hit a brick wall yesterday with the presiding magistrate ruling that he cannot dictate where he wants to be tried.
Mphoko appeared before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara who made a twofold application, the first being for transfer to have the trial heard in Bulawayo and the second being for referral to the Constitutional Court.
“The two issues I’d like dealt with as preliminary are the request for change of venue and to launch a request for referral to the Constitutional Court, the court can make an assessment whether or not the questions we want answered in the superior court are frivolous or not.
“Mphoko is ordinarily a resident of Bulawayo and he has no access to a decent residence here in Harare and has to embark on a 400km journey whenever he is supposed to appear before you, the circumstances are causing an undue hardship on three basis:
“The distance impairs his ability to coordinate his defence as his instructing attorney is based in Bulawayo so the sheer logistics are expensive and impossible to coordinate, he is entitled to keeping the social fabric of his life together.
“The resources required to coordinate his defence are hectic in arranging travel to Harare with the current unreliable flight system, there is no territorial exclusivity clause in our jurisdiction, witnesses are entitled to transport costs so they can come to Bulawayo,” said Zhuwarara.
In response the State represented by Lovett Masuku opposed the application raising an argument that Mphoko’s hardships cannot be put on the State.
“His social problems cannot be thrust upon the State witnesses, they are employed officers, the request has no legal basis the matter can be heard anywhere the PG and the defence should agree, which isn’t the case here,” said Masuku.
In the application for referral to the Con Court that was placed in writing, Mphoko sought five questions to be answered including whether the Presidential Immunity extends to acts or omissions by a former Vice President, who intends to prove that such acts were actuated during the discharge of his duties.
The matter will be back in court on December 6 for ruling. H-Metro