Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
Spirit Embassy Ministries leader Prophet Uebert Angel Mudzanire’s lawyer Mr Wellington Pasipanodya will not testify in the ongoing trial of a Harare man accused of helping the church leader defraud businessman Mr Ndabazinengi Shava of his Bentley.
The court ruled yesterday that it will be a breach of the lawyer-client confidentiality if he was to testify.
Law officer Mr Editor Mavuto intended to produce an affidavit in the pending fraud case which was filed at the High Court in a civil dispute between Prophet Angel and Mr Shava.
In the affidavit, Prophet Angel said he did not know Mr Shava since he had dealt with the accused Andersen Tagara in the car deal.
Tagara’s lawyer Mr Itayi Ndudzo objected to the production of the said affidavit by the State, arguing that it was not admissible since it was not a public document.
He then challenged the State to summon the author of the affidavit to testify before the court, prompting Mr Mavuto to subpoena Mr Pasipanodya since he was the one who prepared the document with the instructions of Prophet Angel.
Through his lawyer Mr Tinashe Tanyanyiwa, Mr Pasipanodya refused to testify against his client, arguing that it was in breach of the lawyer-client confidentiality.
Mr Tanyanyiwa said the State should not have called Mr Pasipanodya to testify.
“Your Worship, everything about my client being here in court is wrong at law,” he said.
“Section 294 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act states that no legal practitioner dully qualified to practise in the court shall give evidence against his client without the client’s consent.
“Your Worship, to compel Mr Pasipanodya to testify is actually an attack at the legal profession.
“He cannot also testify because at one time the accused person (Tagara) once approached him when he was arrested seeking legal representation in this matter, but because of his (Mr Pasipanodya) affiliation to Prophet Angel, he could not represent him. However, this clearly shows that they can be some privileged information they could have discussed.
“It is my humble submission that the subpoena be cancelled and that my client may not be called to testify in this case, that, Your Worship, is the law.”
The State maintained that Mr Pasipanodya was competent to testify, before citing some sections in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
After hearing submissions from both counsels, regional magistrate Mr Noel Mupeiwa ruled in favour of Mr Pasipanodya and concurred with both Mr Tanyanyiwa and Mr Ndudzo that it was in breach of the lawyer-client confidentiality for him to testify.