|Chivero boat crew has case to answer|
|Thursday, 02 August 2012 00:00|
A Harare magistrate has dismissed an application for discharge by the owner and crew-members of the boat that capsized and killed 11 children at Lake Chivero last year in their culpable homicide case.
Latif Ameer (53) and crew-members Fadil Ramon Weale (27), Enock Yolani Zulu (36) and Joseph Abrahams (37) are facing 11 counts of culpable homicide.
Ameer, Weale and Abrahams through their lawyers Mr Hamios Mukonoweshuro and Jacob Jogee had made an application for discharge at the close of the State case.
They argued the prosecution had failed to prove a case against them.
Zulu who is not represented had also prayed for an acquittal arguing he had no case to answer.
Magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe said the State had managed to prove a prima-facie case against the four accused persons, hence they should be put to their defence.
He said the evidence led by the State shows that Ameer authorised Zulu to drive his boat.
“If the State’s allegations that Zulu is unlicensed are true then accused (1) (Ameer) should explain to the court why he authorised an unlicensed driver to operate his boat.
“He should also explain why his boat had no life saving jackets and why it was overloaded. The accused will only explain this when he is put to his defence,” he said.
Mr Mahwe said that Zulu also needed to explain to the court why he drove the boat while he did not have a licence.
He further said that Abrahams who was in charge of loading the boat and collecting the money owed the court an explanation why he loaded 21 people in a small boat with a carrying capacity of six.
He added, “After Abrahams had loaded the boat, Weale introduced himself as the captain . . . the State’s evidence suggests he was a crew-member of the boat and as such he had a duty to ensure safety of the passengers. According to the evidence, he was the first to leave the boat when it capsized. He has to explain why he did not save others.”
“The applications for discharge at the close of the State case are dismissed, the accused persons are to be put to their defence,” he ruled.
Shortly after the ruling had been passed, Zulu told the court that he was not feeling well hence was not fit to stand trial.
Zulu claimed he had been unwell for a week, but he failed to produce a medical report.
However, Mr Mahwe ruled that in the absence of the medical proof the court had no choice but to proceed with trial.
He said he was now getting annoyed with the applications and excuses, which were coming up in every session.
He ordered the defence to proceed with its case and Ameer was the first to take the witness stand.
During his evidence-in-chief, Ameer told the court that Zulu drove his boat without his authority. He denied ever instructing him to use his boat. He said he had taken the boat to the lake for a fun day with his friends and relatives.
Ameer added that he knew that his boat had a carrying capacity of six people and had carried six life saving jackets.
The trial continues tomorrow.