Drama As Magistrate, Prosecutor Forces Harare Businessman To Stand Trial In Absence Of Lawyer
30 March 2022
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By A Correspondent| There was drama in court last Friday after Harare Regional Magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti Guwuriro and State Prosecutor Michael Reza allegedly connived to force Harare businessman George Katsimberis to stand trial without a lawyer.

Katsimberis is accused of fraud in a case in which Pokugara Properties and its owner Kenneth Raydon Sharpe claimed he built a house at the corner of Teviotdale and Whitwell Road without approved architectural plans.

Appearing on behalf of Katsimberis, Charles Warara who stood in for Lewis Uriri applied for a postponement of trial in order for his client to be furnished with particulars he needed to prepare for trial.

“I submit that until such a time the particulars are provided, this matter is not ready for trial,” said Warara.

Reza stood up and vehemently opposed the request swearing that he will not provide the particulars to the accused person.

“I refuse to be ordered by Mr Warara to go and collect public documents which he can go and collect by myself. No one can force me to get those documents, young or old, male or female, dead or alive,” said Reza.

Guwuriro then ordered that the trial would proceed arguing that she could not review a ruling by another magistrate Letwin Rwodzi on a similar application by the accused.

This forced Warara to recuse himself saying he did not have instructions to proceed to trial.

“…I have no instruction to go beyond the application that I have submitted and that I withdraw from the matter,” Warara told the court.

At that juncture, Katsimberis who was now on his own was asked to stand in the dock to plead.

Katsimberis objected to plead saying he needed to consult a lawyer and proceeding with trial was in breach of his right to legal representation of choice

Guwuriro then postponed the trial to 30 March but Katsimberis insisted that his lawyer Lewis Uriri would only be available after the 20th of April but his request was shot down by the magistrate.

Katsimberis is embroiled in a long running legal battle with controversial land baron Ken Sharpe emanating from a botched joint venture deal for the construction of cluster houses at the corner of Teviotdale and Whitwell Road.

As a result, Katsimberis reported Pokugara Properties and City of Harare for malicious damage to property after they connived to destroy a show house he built as part of the joint venture deal.

He has also reported Pokugara and City of Harare for perjury after they lied in a High Court affidavit that he did not submit architectural plans to Mt Pleasant when they were fully aware that the plans were submitted at Clevelend House.