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Justice Patel slams state in Chivhayo appeal

Justice Patel slams state in Chivhayo appeal

The Supreme Court on Wednesday blasted the State over clumsy work in its appeal challenging the acquittal of businessman Wicknell Chivayo of the $5,6 million fraud charge involving the Zimbabwe Power Company’s Gwanda Solar Project.

The State was seeking leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court absolving the businessman and his company Intratrek Zimbabwe of any criminal liability in the Gwanda solar project.

Justice Bharat Patel expressed his disquiet over the manner the State’s heads of argument were crafted, describing them as “the most appalling heads of arguments I have ever seen.”

Lead prosecution counsel Ms Sheron Fero from the Prosecutor-General’s Office had asked for a postponement to file fresh heads of argument.

She dissociated herself from the heads of argument, which she also described as “kindergarten stuff”.

“I request your indulgence to file different heads of argument to correct the anomalies that are there,” she said. “There are typographical errors, which are akin to kindergarten stuff.”

The State also conceded that the points raised by Chivayo’s lawyers on the validity of the State’s application were valid and that the PG’s office would need time to consider the appeal.

Said Mr Fero: “I also looked at the substance of those heads and noted that they do not articulate the issues for purposes of this application. The defence has raised valid points in respect of the validity of the application itself, which I believe in the interest of justice, we need to craft proper heads.”

When Justice Patel sought an explanation as to who had crafted the heads of argument, both Ms Fero and Mr Zivanai Macharaga, also from the Prosecutor-General’s Office, distanced themselves.

Justice Patel agreed to have the matter postponed after Ms Fero told him that she wanted time consider the matter carefully. Justice Patel said if the State intended to proceed with the matter, they will have to file a fresh set of heads of argument by April 29 and the matter will be heard on May 8.

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The defence had up to May 4 to file their papers.

Chivayo was cleared of the fraud charges, while the other two counts of breaching Exchange Control regulations suffered a stillbirth, shortly before the trial commenced.

In acquitting, Chivayo last month, Justice Owen Tagu ruled that the matter was a civil and not a criminal suit._The Herald

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