A LEGAL clerk, Constantino Chaza, accused of forging a signature on a power of attorney used in two civil cases, is now attempting to block the State from placing in the court record the affidavits and other documents he allegedly fraudulently filed at the High Court and Supreme Court, which led to his arrest.
The State wanted to tender a bunch of affidavits that Chaza, a legal clerk with CCC co-vice president Tendai Biti’s law firm at the time, used over the last five years.
Chaza, through lawyer Admire Rubaya, objected to the production of the affidavits saying they were not admissible in court as they were not certified.
Even the special power of attorney, with an allegedly forged signature used to release property was, he argued, a private document whose authenticity was now being challenged.
“This court is however, being asked to look through the document and ascertain if it was signed by the accused in question, forging the signature of Elliot Rogers. This trial would be rendered unfair if these documents are accepted in court,” said Mr Rubaya.
Prosecutor Mrs Shambadzeni Fungura had told the court that since those documents were filed in the courts in a series of civil hearings, they had become official and public documents, and were already part of the record of those proceedings, and so can be used in the criminal trial of Chaza.
The matter has since been postponed to next Wednesday where the State will respond to the submissions made by the defence.
Chaza is charged with fraud and perjury.
On Wednesday, Chaza through Mr Rubaya, denied the allegations when he appeared before Harare magistrate Mrs Munashe Chibanda. He counter-attacked the main complainant, Mr Tendai Mashamhanda, accusing him of using connections with the “powers that be” to raise allegations against him.
When giving his testimony as a State witness, Mr Mashamhanda said he was shocked to learn that Chaza had submitted several fake affidavits and documents including the special power of attorney during court proceedings.
Mr Mashamhanda in particular looked at the special power of attorney from Mr Elliot Rogers.
“On the Special Power of Attorney, there was no notarial stamp and for it to be a valid power of attorney it should have the notarial stamp in terms of the international standards,” he said.
Mr Mashamhanda also noted that the signature on the special power of attorney dated September 27, 2015 looked different from that of Mr Rogers, especially on an affidavit dated October 7, 2014.
He told the court that finding on police forensic investigations proved that the two signatures were not appended by the same person. Mr Mashamhanda described the differences in the signatures as shocking and unbelievable.
He said the CID Forensic Laboratory was then roped in to analyse that document and compared it with other documents signed by Mr Rogers. The CID then concluded that the documents were not signed by the same person, he said.
Mrs Fungura alleges that on February 26, 2020 at the High Court in Harare, Chaza tendered a fake special power of attorney from Mr Rogers in a civil matter in which Mr Mashamhanda was the other party.
The court acted upon the misrepresentation and allowed Chaza to file the papers.
But Mr Mashamhanda managed to contact Mr Rogers in the United Kingdom, who denied giving Chaza any power of attorney and the matter was reported to the police.
The special power of attorney tendered by Chaza was then checked out by CID Forensic Laboratory for analysis, together with other documents that Mr Rogers signed, and it was allegedly discovered that the documents were not signed by the same person.
On the second count, it is alleged that on October 18, 2021 at the High Court in Harare, Chaza again allegedly tendered a fake special power of attorney from Mr Rogers in another case.