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Acting Prosecutor-General (PG) Ray Goba has been accused of interfering with the ongoing court proceedings involving suspended PG Johannes Tomana after writing a letter to Judge President, Justice George Chiweshe, calling for the recusal of the presiding judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The private and confidential letter addressed to Justice Chiweshe, whose contents were made public in court yesterday, prompted Justice Chitapi to order Goba to personally appear before the court and explain his actions.
In the letter, Goba reportedly called upon the High Court head of administration, Justice Chiweshe, to ask Justice Chitapi to recuse himself, saying his handling of Tomana’s criminal trial would compromise the administration of justice.
Prior to the court’s directive, Tomana’s lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who is instructed by Mukwewa and Ngwerume, had urged the court to order the registrar of the court to issue a citation, calling on Goba to appear before the court.
“I am going to move that the registrar prepare a citation, calling Ray Goba to show cause why he must not be held in contempt of this court. He has written a letter directed to the Judge President and has not even had the courtesy of copying this honourable court and, yet, he makes submissions on the matter that is before this court,” Mpofu said.
“He (Goba) accuses his lordship of misconduct and asks this court to recuse itself mainly because he has lost respect for this court. This is why he is even prepared to do what he has done. The letter, however, is indubitably vexatious and no doubt it impugns the integrity of this court’s ability to deliver justice.”
Mpofu further said in the letter, Goba also said Justice Chitapi was wrongly addressing Tomana as PG, when he (Goba) was the only person holding that office in Zimbabwe.
“He says the court (Justice Chitapi) referred to Tomana as the PG, but there is no law that says people, who appear in court must be called accused persons. He is still the PG, he is the only person identified by the Constitution as the PG from 2013 until now,” Mpofu said.
Justice Chitapi echoed the same sentiments, asking State representative, Jonathan Chingwinyiso, to explain what position Tomana held.
“What do you call the man behind you? He has been suspended, yes, but what is his title? What do you call him if you meet him?” Justice Chitapi asked.
Chingwinyiso responded: “A soccer player, who has been red-carded still remains a player. He remains the PG, but this letter by the acting PG can be best answered by the author, I am just a messenger conveying the message.”
Following the State’s response, Justice Chitapi said it was a fact that Goba was the acting PG, but was not the substantive individual holding the actual office.
“Openness is very key, but the way you go about in the dead of the night sneaking letters is not proper. You should have approached the court and made a proper application for the court to recuse itself, which application the court would have considered. It’s a pity given the profile of this case, more so, that the person, who wrote this letter is in the same position as the accused,” the court said.
As the matter was about to be rolled over to today, Chingwinyiso enquired from the court how he was going to ask Goba to appear in court and Justice
Chitapi said: “He must be here, I cannot be seen to be issuing subpoenas, can I? He must be here and if he doesn’t come, we will issue a citation. He is the one who has raised the letter and must explain it.”
Tomana, who is facing six counts of abuse of office, on Monday made an application for stay of proceedings citing infringement of his constitutional rights. The State is today expected to respond to the application, which prompted Goba to write to the Judge President.
The State is also represented by Malvern Musarurwa, Thompson Hove and Timothy Makoni.