Fungai Jachi Court Reporter
The trial of former zanu-PF Harare provincial youth chairman Godwin Gomwe and seven others accused of extorting over $46 000 from eight housing cooperatives in Glen Norah using the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe’s name, failed to kick off yesterday after his lawyer asked for more time to prepare his defence.
Gomwe is now represented by Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba.
Adv Magwaliba argued that he received State papers last week and was not able to prepare a written defence outline for Gomwe.
“I do not understand why the State is in a hurry to proceed with this matter. My client has a right to choose a lawyer of his own and I need ample time to explain the charges to him.
“Proceeding with this matter today jeopardises the first accused’s right to adequately prepare for trial,” he said.
Prosecutor Ms Venencia Mutake argued that Adv Magwaliba was deliberately delaying the commencement of trial.
“They were served with the State papers on time this is just a delaying tactic. The State is prepared to start the trial today,” she said.
Magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe, ruled in favour of Adv Magwaliba and postponed the matter to July 9.
“It is clear that you have to take instructions from your client and you also need ample time to craft a defence outline for the accused in order for justice to prevail,” he said.
Gomwe alias Mambo (34) is jointly charged with Muchineripi Mupindu alias Ginya (36), Fidelis Ndaradza alias Brigadier (32), Haruwandi Munyawiri alias Baya (46), Hamphrey Madenyika (29), Josephine Hadziindi (59), Norah Toronga (38) and Moses Handiseni.
The other seven are being represented by Mr Shelton Mahuni of Mahuni and Matutu Attorneys. They are all facing three counts of extortion.
The State alleged that on February 11, housing cooperatives namely NRZ, Mudadirwa Zvobgo, Tenzi Tinzwei, Spring Field, Archgrace, Palmar Vision, Westgin, First Avenue, Green Image and Ingoni, all registered under the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises, were allocated 300 residential stands by the City of Harare.
Gomwe allegedly mobilised 30 youths and proceeded to the construction site and informed them that the land once belonged to the late Amai Sally Mugabe.
Gomwe added that the land was owned by Amai Grace Mugabe before he was chased away.
On May 10, Gomwe and his accomplices went back to the site ordering them to leave.
He insisted that the land belonged to the First Lady.
A fracas ensued, prompting the complainants to approach the High Court for a provisional order authorising them to develop the land.
Gomwe allegedly mobilised 80 more youths and forcibly removed the complainants from the site. They demanded four stands or $20 000. However, Archgrace Housing Cooperative was not included because its members were police officers.
Operations were stopped after complainants failed to raise the money. This did not go down well with Godfrey Chivasa, the chairperson of Perfect Hope Housing Cooperative because he had already given the suspects cash and 19 stands as kickbacks.
The suspects were given another $25 000.
The complainants were ordered to affiliate to an unregistered consortium named Dr Amai Grace Mugabe to avert further trouble.
Each cooperative was to pay $120 as joining fee and was issued with receipts inscribed Amai Dr Grace Mugabe Housing Consortium.
Handiseni stopped operations again saying Gomwe had not benefited from the $25 000 they had paid.
The complainants offered $5 000, which Gomwe said was not enough for a senior official like him and demanded $10 000 more.
The money was allegedly handed over to one Kuda, who is said to be the president of the Zimbabwe Council of Students Union (ZICOSU) who later handed it over to Gomwe.