Mamombe bid to stop trial fails
CCC members Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri yesterday lost their bid to stop their trial, where they now have to present a defence case, saying they wanted the High Court to review the magistrate’s decision to dismiss their application for discharge at the close of the State case.
Mamombe and Chimbiri were yesterday supposed to start their defence case on charges of faking their abductions in May 2020, with Chief Magistrate Mrs Faith Mushure last week dismissing their application for discharge at the close of the State case.
Mrs Mushure said in particular, the defence needed to explain how and why material was uploaded from their mobile phones onto social media platforms at a time they claimed to have been abducted.
Through their lawyer, Mr Alec Muchadehama, Mamombe and Chimbiri told the Chief Magistrate that they failed to file the application on Wednesday at the High Court seeking a review because of logistical issues.
In their application for a trial postponement until the High Court settles the matter, the two said one of their defence lawyers was then at the High Court filing the application for review.
They argued that there were high prospects of success at the High Court, arguing that the two offences they were charged with were unconstitutional.
Mamombe and Chimbiri are charged with communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State and alternatively violating the Covid-19 regulations.
They also argue that the court acted injudiciously when it put the two on their defence, saying that move was aimed at bolstering a weak State case.
They also argued that the magistrate’s court was manufacturing evidence in its original ruling dismissing their application for discharge.
The State led by Mr Michael Reza opposed the application for review saying there was no evidence placed before the court to prove that anyone had filed anything at the High Court.
Moreover, the two failed to place before the court an order from the High Court ordering a stay of the trial proceedings.
He argued that allowing for stay of proceedings was tantamount to the Chief Magistrate reviewing her own initial ruling dismissing the application for discharge.
“This application wants you to review your own decision,” said Mr Reza.
“There is no evidence that application for review has been submitted. There is also nothing from superior courts ordering stay of these proceedings.
“In fact, he (the defence lawyer) is in the wrong court; he ought to make those submissions in a superior court. These proceedings must proceed.”
Mrs Mushure, in her ruling after hearing the two sets of argument, said a mere filing of an application for review at the High Court does not stop trial proceedings. She also noted the two accused failed to give valid reasons in their application for stay of proceeding. So she dismissed their application for a stay in their trial until the High Court made a decision.
Mamombe and Chimbiri then quickly came back with another application for postponement of the trial, while they mounted an urgent chamber application for stay of proceedings at the High Court.
Mr Muchadehama, in his application, argued that the postponement would then allow them to file their application for review at the High Court.
Mr Reza opposed the application arguing that it was similar to the one which was dismissed.
Again, Mrs Mushure dismissed this second postponement application, saying an expression to file an application at the High Court did not stop trial proceedings and ordered that the trial continued.
Because of time taken in dealing with these postponement applications, Mr Muchadehama then requested that the trial continued on another day.
Mr Reza agreed, and Mrs Mushure set September 28 for Mamombe and Chimbiri to start mounting their defence case.