Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter
A PRIEST at St Paul’s Musami High School in Mrehwa yesterday appeared in court for allegedly poisoning the school headmaster by lacing his cup with an unknown substance during a tea break while they were attending a workshop in Harare.
Ugenio Phiri appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court on allegations of lacing Mr Richard Hlombe’s tea with an unknown substance during a tea break while attending a workshop at Msasa Training Bureau in Harare sometime in March this year.
Phiri denied the charges when he appeared before magistrate Mrs Munashe Chibanda charged with assault.
The State led by Mr Tinos Masimba alleges that on March 1 this year, Mr Hlombe drove from Murehwa to Msasa Training Bureau to attend an educational workshop.
At around 10am Mr Hlombe, Phiri and other workshop attendees went to have breakfast at Msasa Training Bureau campus restaurant.
It is said that while they were queueing to have breakfast, Phiri started distributing cups to other attendees.
A number of guests including Mr Hlombe received a cup from Phiri before they went on to serve themselves, a court heard.
Mr Hlombe is said to have taken the tea.
Shortly after feeding, Mr Hlombe started having stomach pains, it is alleged.
His situation worsened and decided to seek medication after suspecting food poisoning.
It is said medical tests were conducted to determine whether or not he had taken poison.
Medical test results showed that level of cyanide in his body was increasing, according to the State.
Yesterday, Mr Hlombe told the court that Phiri had been fighting him because he has problems with a non-Catholic person heading the school.
He said although they have been having a good working relationship, they used to have disagreements on certain management issues.
Mr Hlombe told the court that their disputes would end after engaging the Jesuit Society or the provincial education director.
Phiri denied the allegations, saying he was never in possession of any form of poison which would have enabled him to commit the alleged crime.
“He never gave the complainant a cup laced with poison or put poison in the cup or any substance at all.
“These charges are entirely malicious and are based on the complainant’’s erroneous perception that there is enmity between the accused person and him.
“He does not perceive the complainant as his enemy at all notwithstanding that the complainant himself holds a totally different view which led him to raise these false allegations against the accused person,” said Phiri.
Phiri said Mr Hlombe raised the allegations in an attempt to pre-empt some serious administrative issues that he raised against him.
He raised questions on Mr Hlombe’s medical affidavit which he said was raised on February 2 before the incident occurred.
Phiri is expected to be back in court on September 27 for trial continuation.