Former VP Mphoko wins Sabbath day battle

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THERE was drama at former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s, court hearing yesterday after his lawyer and the trial magistrate Hosea Mujaya engaged in a heated debate over whether the matter should take place on “Sabbath” day.
Mphoko was being represented by Zibusiso Ncube after Tawanda Zhuwarara renounced agency, prompting him to seek a postponement to February 13 to allow his new attorney, Tembinkosi Magwaliba, to familiarise with the case.
Mphoko is being charged with criminal abuse of office after allegedly ordering the release of two suspects from custody in 2016.
Mujaya insisted on having the matter heard on Saturday (tomorrow) but Ncube and Mphoko objected, saying their religious conviction as Seventh Day Adventists did not permit them to work on a Saturday.
“We cannot compromise on the issue of the Sabbath.
“Our conditions are that we do not work on Sabbath and on this one we believe in a higher authority, God,” Ncube said.
Mujaya queried how the Sabbath would jeopardise the administration of justice, adding that the matter had been postponed for over five times and no progress was being made.
“Are you trying to say that you cannot be arrested if it is a Saturday or that I cannot acquit the accused person on that day? Will this trial ever commence in this lifetime?” questioned Mujaya.
The court was briefly adjourned after Mujaya insisted that Mphoko enter his plea before the matter could be moved to another date.
When proceedings resumed, the matter was eventually moved to February 13 with conditions that trial will effectively commence without fail.
The State alleged that on May 6, 2016, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission received a fraud report against Zinara officials David Norupiri and Moses Juma.
The two were charged with criminal abuse of office and were taken to Avondale Police Station the following day pending a court appearance.
It is the State’s case that on the same day at around 6pm Mphoko, who was at the time the acting president, stormed the police station and ordered the immediate release of the two from police custody.

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