Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi yesterday blasted former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura for continuously changing lawyers and always seeking postponements, resulting in his corruption trial dragging for two years without progress.
Nyagura, who is facing charges of criminal abuse of office, is said to have illegally awarded former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe a doctorate in 2014.
The case has been pending since 2018 and Nyagura has changed lawyers in between, causing postponement of the case on several occasions with the defence giving various excuses each time the matter is brought to court for trial.
Nyagura yesterday appeared before Mr Mutevedzi for trial which failed to start after a new lawyer showed up and requested for time to go through the record.
Advocate Tafadzwa Mapuranga told the court that he was standing in for Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara whom he said was now representing Nyagura.
Adv Mapuranga sought postponement of the matter saying Adv Zhuwarara had another engagement at the High Court.
The postponement did not go down well with both the magistrate and the prosecution which accused Nyagura and his defence team of playing games with the court.
Mr Mutevedzi said: “This matter has been pending since 2018 and the accused person should have instructed a lawyer of his choice long back. Who was holding him back? We cannot continue to be told that the matter can’t proceed to trial every time it’s set down for trial.
“We cannot do what suits the defence always. You cannot just wake up and impose trial dates of your choice. Why have you not been preparing all along? I want Adv Zhuwarara to come to court and answer to certain questions.”
Prosecutor Mr Tapiwa Godzi, with the assistance of Mr Michael Chakandida, opposed the application for postponement saying: “Your worship, on the last remand, the defence for the accused made a firm undertaking that the trial would resume today only to receive a phone call from Adv Zhuwarara yesterday (Monday) telling me that Adv Hashiti was no longer representing the accused and that he was taking over the matter. I advised him to appear before you today and formally advise the court. He did not tell me that he would be in the High Court today.
“This charge has been hanging on his head since 2018 and it has suffered several abortive trial dates. In my view, these are delaying tactics.”
Mr Mutevedzi briefly stood down the matter to allow Adv Zhuwarara to appear before him.
The case later resumed after he was satisfied that Adv Zhuwarara was indeed engaged at the High Court.