Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Chigumba did not turn up Wednesday for the trial of a Harare socialite accused of insulting her, resulting the latter walking away from court a free man.
Night Taona Shadaya got into trouble after reportedly retweeting a message from a supposedly fake Chigumba Twitter account sometime in August this year.
The message read; “I can’t wait for the elections fiasco to come to an end. I could do with a holiday and some good sex. My body needs a break.”
However, Justice Chigumba – who is the complainant in the case – again failed to turn up and testify on Wednesday.
This resulted in magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa removing Shadaya from remand and advising the State to proceed by way of summons.
Prosecutor Peter Kachirika told court that he tried to subpoena Chigumba to no avail.
“The case was set for trial, but the State failed to bring the complainant,” said the government lawyer.
“The State has made several attempts to subpoena the witness to no avail, so we are asking for the last chance to contact her.”
But defence lawyers challenged further postponement of the case saying the State was not serious.
“They have given the same reason for postponement several times,” said Shadaya’s lawyer.
“The defence, on last appearance, put the State on notice to challenge further remand and applies for immediate release of the accused from further remand.”
Shadaya had initially pleaded guilty to the charge and was convicted before he changed his plea after the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) moved in to represent him.
He then successfully entered a “not guilty” plea, arguing that he made the initial plea under duress.
ZLHR lawyers told court that they perused Shadaya’s plea docket but could not find details of whether the Twitter account in the name of Chigumba was fake or real.
The rights lawyers also argued that there was no charge on what Shadaya did because he merely repeated what the complainant had posted on the Twitter account.