Saturday, May 15, 2021

Magistrate castigates police over court procedure

Broadhurst Principal Magistrate, Nehemiah Mugoni this week slammed police officers for their ignorance of the law and court procedures.

The BPS on Wednesday suffered a heavy blow as Mugoni poured scorn over legal mechanisms employed by the officers in executing their daily duties.
The magistrate castigated the police prosecutors for detaining innocent individuals without credible evidence to justify their actions, arguing such instances were a result of ignorance of the law and court procedures.

This surfaced during a mention trial involving three Zimbabweans accused of breaking and stealing from a house belonging to Member of Parliament, Robert Molefhabangwe, in Gaborone West. Though admitting they committed the offence and were guilty of the offences as stipulated, Gift Mashati and Paul Chikwani absolved Farai Mutaranyika from the offences, saying he was arrested because he was at the place of arrest at the wrong time.

For his part, Mutaranyika pleaded not guilty arguing he was arrested simply because he stays with the duo.
Asked by the magistrate if he had evidence to suggest Mutaranyika was implicated in the commission of the offences, sub-inspector Malaolo of Gaborone West could not produce any except to say, “I have been instructed by the investigation officer to detain them.”

This response earned the officer the wrath of the magistrate who accused him of acting outside the law.
“It is the prosecutor who should instruct the investigation officer not the other way round. The prosecutor is the one to decide whether to proceed with the case or not. He assesses evidence and gives instructions. As the evidence stands, this court is convinced unequivocally that there is no evidence to link the third accused with the offences committed whatsoever. This court could not remand anyone without basis,” maintained Mugoni, releasing Mutaranyika from the dock.

The principal magistrate lambasted the police for ‘trampling and preying on innocent individuals simply because they are Zimbabweans’.

Asked further if the case could proceed because the accused persons had already pleaded to the charges, Malaolo said he was unprepared with the facts of the case, prompting the magistrate to fire yet another salvo against the police operations pertaining to the law and court procedures.

He poured scorn over the police prosecutors’ propensity to ask the accused persons to plead when, in reality, they were not ready to proceed with the case.

“To ask the accused persons to plead is not a ritual. It has important legal implications. It must be expeditiously and thoroughly executed. Immediately you ask for the accused to plead it goes without saying the prosecution is ready to resume trial. It is the constitutional rights of the accused persons – not the police – to be tried at convenient and reasonable time. You should not be dillyÔÇôdallying.”

Mugoni also castigated another police prosecutor who also asked the accused persons to plead whilst investigations were still continuing.
According to the magistrate, the officer could have reserved the plea pending investigations.

Broadhurst Police Station prosecutor, Kehakae, could not leave unscathed with the magistrate accusing him of presenting facts without ingredients to substantiate house breaking and theft.

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