Prosecutor Michael Reza’s bid to push for land developer George Katsimberis’ trial without his lead lawyer Tawanda Kanengoni failed yesterday after Harare regional magistrate Vongai Guwuriro ruled against his application for trial continuation.
Through his lawyer Charles Warara, Katsimberis had sought postponement of trial owing to the unavailability of his lead counsel Kanengoni who had attended to an emergency at his home.
However, Reza objected to the postponement of trial insisting that trial should continue with cross examination of Pokugara Properties ex-Managing director Michael John Van Blerk but Warara said he was not prepared to cross examine as he was not privy to Van Blerk’s testimony.
“Your worship I think it’s totally absurd for the State Counsel to ask me to conduct the defence for the accused neither can the court conduct the defence for the accused. This is a decision that the accused has made that Mr Kanengoni will conduct the cross examination. He is the one who has prepared for that cross examination. I have not prepared for that cross examination, Mr Kanengoni is doing that, in fact it is totally inappropriate and irregular to request that the defence change legal practitioners for purposes of a trial.
The rules require that the legal practitioner chosen by the accused if available must continue with cross examination because he knows where he left and what he intended to achieve. I was not the one responsible for cross examining and I did know either that Mr Kanengoni is not available until the morning. For the State to say I am prepared when I am not… the reason I am here is I am assisting Mr Kanengoni with the trial where I have to come in and assist in terms of the processes, I will advise but that is not to say I am conducting the cross examination, so for the State to demand that I conduct the cross examination is wrong,” said Warara
Guwuriro stood the matter down in order to make a ruling and after a lengthy delay she returned granting postponement of trial to 18 May 2022.
Katsimberis is embroiled in a legal battle with controversial businessman Kenneth Raydon Sharpe following a botched joint venture agreement
Katsimberis is facing fraud charges in which he is accused of furnishing Pokugara Properties with unapproved architectural plans despite confirmation from the City of Harare that the plans were authentic.
Trial has since commenced with Sharpe’s aide Michael John Van Blerk set to be cross examined after testifying. This is not the first time that Reza has sought continuation of trial in the absence of Katsimberis’ lawyer despite glaring evidence that they will be engaged.