HARARE – As we reported elsewhere in this newspaper, a Masvingo magistrate on Friday acquitted the Daily News of publishing falsehoods after the peerless daily reported on claims late last year that vigilante groups were being trained in Gutu.
But magistrate Dorothy Mwanyisa did not just clear the Daily News of any wrong doing after the State charged the top newspaper for contravening a section of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, she also rightly lambasted the State’s witnesses for putting up a pathetic showing in court.
During trial in which the Daily News was the defendant, State prosecutors shamelessly tried to smuggle in the name of the paper’s group editor, Stanley Gama so that he could also be prosecuted although he had not been charged by police.
The magistrate however, blasted the move saying the prosecution’s tactic to try to have Gama put to his defence was a desperate attempt to use the Daily News to bolster the State case.
Among the scandalous things that infuriated the learned magistrate was the testimony of one of the State’s witnesses, a self-proclaimed businessman from Man’a Business Centre, who stunned the court when he shamelessly admitted under cross examination by renowned human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama that he in fact had never read the story that he claimed was false.
This led to Muchadehama applying for the dismissal of the case, and the magistrate fully concurred with him.
We say bravo to Mwanyisa and other impartial and diligent members of our judiciary who continue to dispense justice without fear or favour despite the many challenges that our courts are facing.
This particular case, like scores of others that have been thrown at the Daily News and other independent media in the last decade-and-a-half, was always suspect, hence the royal and deserved shellacking that the State got from Mwanyisa.
The fact is that hopeless cases such as this one only serve to undermine the police and the State, in addition to further clogging the courts and wasting scarce State resources and time.
They also prevent deserving cases from receiving the attention they deserve from the police, prosecutors and the men and women on the bench.
Fortunately in this case, justice was not just done in the end, it was also seen to be done as seen in the harsh words the magistrate had for the State.
In addition to our professionalism, it is also a tribute to the many fine arbiters that are still working in our judiciary, that not a single litigant has won their case against the Daily News since we re-launched our operations nearly three years ago.
Yes, there have been scores of ridiculous attempts to debilitate us via the courts, all to no avail, which is why we say kudos to our judiciary!