Fidelis Munyoro : Chief Court Reporter
ELEVEN witnesses have been lined up to testify against Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries founder Walter Magaya, who is facing charges of rape, when his trial takes off at the High Court next month. Magaya, accused of raping a 25-year-old former congregant, will go on trial on February 20.With a high profile and prominent in national and international religious spheres, Magaya’s case will be closely watched by the media and those in Christian circles. According to the indictment, the complainant used to be a congregant at PHD Ministries. She reportedly accepted an invitation from the self-styled prophet to visit him and was shown around the house.
Magaya allegedly left the woman in a room inside the house and later returned naked. It is alleged that Magaya raped the woman once. After the offence, he allegedly gave her $200 and she later reported the incident to her boyfriend in July 2015.
However, in November last year, the complainant sought to withdraw the charges claiming she was being threatened with unspecified action by unidentified people allegedly against the criminal trial of Magaya.
The prosecution refused to drop the rape charges, prompting the clergyman’s lawyers to refer the case to the Constitutional Court.
The application was granted. The apex court will decide on the constitutionality of prosecuting a rape suspect following the withdrawal of a report by the complainant.
Granting the application for referral, Harare magistrate Mrs Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro, ruled that the Concourt should decide whether or not the decision by the Acting Prosecutor-General to indict Magaya when the complainant confessed that the rape allegations were false violated his constitutional rights.
Apart from the Magaya rape trial, the High Court will this term alone hear 45 murder cases and one robbery case between this month and March.
The National Prosecuting Authority has since notified authorities in charge of prisons in Bindura, Marondera, Karoi, Mt Darwin, Murehwa, Kadoma, Chinhoyi and Mutoko to make arrangements and transfer the murder suspects held in their prisons to Harare prisons immediately.
Police have been advised to ensure that witnesses are available to attend court on time.
“The subpoenas for all witnesses for the cases set down for this period have been sent to you for distribution to the various police stations and for the services to the witnesses,” reads the notice to Deputy Commissioner General of Police (Crime) Godwin Matanga.
Meanwhile, the newly opened Masvingo High Court will hear 22 murder cases when the judicial year opens. The court was officially opened in May last year.
The first ever High Court to be opened in Masvingo in post-independence Zimbabwe is manned by two judges—Justices Joseph Martin Mafusire and Garainesu Mawadze.
Masvingo became the third city to house the High Court after Harare and Bulawayo.