Senior Court Reporter
The ruling on the objection by two CCC members to allow the State to play CCTV footage recorded in Belgravia, Harare, allegedly showing Joana Mamombe and Cecelia Chimbiri stopping late in the afternoon of the day they claim to have been abducted was yesterday deferred to next week.
The magistrate presiding over the matter was yesterday not available to deliver the ruling.
Mamombe and Chimbiri are appearing at the Harare Magistrates Court charged with communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State by falsely claiming they were abducted by State agents in 2020.
They denied the charges when they trial opened before Chief Magistrate Mrs Faith Mushure.
Last week, prosecutor Mr Michael Reza, applied to play CCTV video footage obtained by police from Chicken Inn and Zuva Service Station as evidence to prove that the two were at liberty in Harare after the time they claimed to have been abducted. He also applied to produce the CCTV footage as exhibits.
Mr Reza wanted to produce the footage through State witness Detective Chief Inspector Richard Muvhuro Mhlanga of the police cyber laboratory, who the State said was responsible for downloading the recordings.
Det Chief Insp Mhlanga told the court that he extracted the footage in June 2020.
Mamombe and Chimbiri, through lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, objected to the playing and production into the court record of the footage saying Det Chief Insp Mhlanga was not a competent witness the State could use to tender the footage as he was not the person who recorded the footage.
Mr Muchadehama argued that the footage could have been tampered with and doubted its originality.
He claimed that there was another piece of footage which was played by ZBCTV in the past and another one which they were handed by police, leaving room for tampering.
Mr Reza, in his response, told the court that Det Chief Insp Mhlanga was the one who downloaded the original footage upon instruction from the investigating officer and was a competent witness.
“No one has even hinted that the images captured by CCTV have grains. He has been silently agreeing that the images were clear. There is no other person who is better placed to submit into the record other than this witness.
“He is from the cyber laboratory where the videos were kept and he was not part of investigating team.
“The duty of cyber team is to deal with cases such as these. He has no personal interest in how these cases go. He is a professional and he download these images from instructions from investigating officer and he secured originals of videos. That is his job,” he said.
Mr Reza argued the footage was not tampered with as it was being played in its original form.
He said Mamombe and Chimbiri’s lawyer has been furnished with copies of the original footage to prepare for the trial and has already viewed the footage.
Mrs Mushure was expected to deliver the ruling on the objection by the CCC members yesterday, but she was not available to make the decision. Her deputy Mr Gibson Mandaza postponed the matter to July 13 when Mrs Mushure is expected to be available.