HARARE – An army captain has approached the Constitutional Court seeking protection from prosecution, claiming his rights were violated by a military court’s failure to try him within a reasonable time.
Alfred Mugadza was arrested nine years ago after he absented himself from work for 185 days without permission.
He is now seeking permanent stay of prosecution and has filed a Constitutional Court application against the minister of Defence, commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, prosecutor general of the court martial and director of military prosecution.
This was after his arrest in May this year.
His lawyer Thabani Mpofu yesterday said the application was premised on four aspects that include the length of delay and prejudice occasioned by the delay.
Mpofu said the delay to put his client to trial for nine years was “inherently inordinate”.
In his affidavit Mugadza said: “I verily believe that my arrest as well as my pending trial is in bad faith to the extent that I believe that these processes have been prompted and are motivated to avoid an appeal I have lodged with the Defence Forces Services Commission.”
He claims in the affidavit that his dismissal was “wrongful and unlawful”.
Mugadza said he should have been prosecuted nine years ago after being detained at Harare Remand Prison for 30 days.
However, the Attorney General’s office, representing the army, said Mugadza’s trial failed to proceed due to his unavailability, a factor it failed to substantiate.
“It seems you just have no clue how to run your case…Not that you do not have a case but you have no idea how to handle constitutional cases,” Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said, before reserving judgment on the matter.
Mugadza told the court he would visit the army headquarters to check on the issue to do with his
re-instatement, before filing an appeal in January this year, after realising that the responsible officers in the army were “either unwilling or incapable” of resolving his matter.
“At any rate I submit that a delay of nine years in bringing me to trial is grossly unreasonable and amounts to a violation of my constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time,” Mugadza said.