Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Suspended Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana’s lawyer has implored the High Court to censure a Harare magistrate for allegedly making “blatant irregularities” when he decided the issue of bail on the fresh charges of criminal abuse of office. The magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe allegedly granted Tomana $2 000 bail and ordered him to surrender property worth $250 000 as surety, among other stringent bail conditions.
The magistrate allegedly did this without hearing submissions from both the defence and prosecution counsels. Mr Tazorora Musarurwa of Mambosasa Legal Practitioners who is seeking to quash the decision said Tomana was already on bail on three similar charges, hence there was no need to burden him with another bail condition.
“There will be nothing wrong in censuring the magistrate as such blatant irregularities cannot be allowed to exist at such a time when all efforts are being made in improving the quality of justice in this country,” said Mr Musarurwa in his appeal papers.
The appeal hearing has been set for tomorrow in the High Court. Advocate Thabani Mpofu is set to lead the defence team. Mr Musarurwa said the magistrate erred in making a ruling without the benefit of any submissions from Tomana’s counsel. “This is a clear violation of basic rules of natural justice which demand that one must be given an opportunity to be heard before a decision affecting rights is made,” said Mr Musarurwa.
He said the manner in which the proceedings were conducted by the lower court were grossly irregular and demanded that the entire proceedings be set aside. “It must be particularly noted that the trial magistrate took it upon himself to insist on issues that were not requested by the State and that were never argued by the parties,” he said.
“For instance, it is not clear where the figure of US$250 000 as surety was taken from. “There is no other way this court can remedy such gross irregularities other than setting aside the bail proceedings, returning the money paid and securities lodged and cancelling all other conditions.”
Tomana appeared in court on July 11 facing five fresh charges of criminal abuse of office. Earlier this year, Tomana was also freed on $1 000 bail following his arrest on allegations of abusing office. He was accused of releasing suspects that allegedly intended to bomb President Mugabe’s business premises in Mazowe.