A Harare regional Magistrate has landed herself in hot soup over the manner in which she dealt with the trial of MDC vice-chairman Tendai Biti.
Magistrate Gloria Takundwa granted Biti’s request that his trial should be live-streamed, but she later recanted, saying that she had erred. Her recantation came after Chief Prosecutor Michael Reza had said that the magistrate’s decision showed that she was ‘either very brave, very stupid or both’.
In her letter to the High Court, Takundwa said she granted the order for live streaming in error. She wrote
May you urgently place before a judge to review these proceedings on the grounds as stated that I am of the firm view that jurisdiction was absent in light of the fact that the application for media live streaming was done in terms of the right to access to information.
I granted the order in error in that no specific media house was appointed nor mentioned and whether such media house is licensed. There is no law regulating such an application, so the court acted outside the confinement of the law.
However, High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa declined to consider the review, saying Takundwa filed her letter without submissions of the proceedings for the State and defence. He said that asking for a review of her decision, it was akin to seeking a legal opinion from the High Court. Justice Musakwa then ordered the magistrate to proceed with the trial on January 19, 2019. He said
I also note in passing that the trial magistrate granted live streaming to unspecified media houses. Apart from that, there are no conditions governing the live streaming. It is also apparent despite the State has opposed the application, it does not seem to be aggrieved by the order.
Two issues arise from this referral. The first is that the trial magistrate does not specify the provision she relied upon in referring the record of proceeding for review…
Joseph Musakwa is a Zimbabwean lawyer and a judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe. He was appointed by President Robert Mugabe in 2005. Read More About Joseph Musakwa