So you think you are smart?

05 Oct, 2022 - 00:10 0 Views

The Herald

The Herald, October 5, 1979    

THE presence in Bulawayo Magistrates Court yesterday of four men with the same name caused confusion at the start of a trial.   

Smart Ngwenya (25), was the man court officials wanted in the dock to face a charge of tampering with a car in Rhodes Street on August 27. 

But another Smart Ngwenya, who was waiting to give evidence in a different case, entered the dock.   

It was only after the charge had been read and denied by Mr Ngwenya that the mistake was discovered.   

Another man, also Smart Ngwenya, was then brought to the courtroom. But as he made his way to the dock he was also found to be the wrong man. It was discovered he was awaiting trial in an unrelated case.  

The prosecutor, Mr P Berry, revealed that there were actually four men with the name Smart Ngwenya in the building, three of them in custody.  

The “correct” Smart Ngwenya was brought to the dock at the third attempt. He denied the charge, saying he was walking with his girlfriend when he was arrested and accused of interfering with a car.   


It is always important to verify issues before taking course of action. The officials in the story kept on getting the wrong accused person because they were only relying on the name and not actually verifying to ensure that they have the right person.  

With the proliferation of social media today, the story would have gone viral. 

People need to learn from their mistakes. The officials in the story appear not to have learnt anything since they went on to call three wrong accused persons before they finally settling for the one they want.  

Mistaken identity is a defence in criminal law. 

Strange occurrences are not very common but they do happen in life. It is almost rare that four people with the same name can be in one place at any given time and three of these can be accused persons. 

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