The trial of opposition politician Tendai Biti, who faced charges of verbally assaulting businesswoman and investor Mrs. Tatiana Aleshina at the Harare Magistrates Court in 2020, continued last Friday. However, Biti raised concerns about prosecutor Mr. Tafara Chirambira substituting for Deputy Prosecutor General Mr. Michael Reza.
Through his lawyer, Mr. Alec Muchadehama, Biti argued that it was improper for Mr. Chirambira to step in for Mr. Reza, as he had not been involved in the case previously and was unfamiliar with the trial’s proceedings and issues raised. Biti expressed his apprehension that continuing the trial under these circumstances would be coerced, particularly in Mr. Reza’s absence.
In response, Mr. Chirambira defended his role, asserting that it was not unprecedented for one prosecutor to take over from another. He stated that he had been assisting Mr. Reza from the outset and argued that Biti would not suffer any prejudice if there were gaps in his knowledge of the case. Mr. Chirambira emphasized the importance of bringing criminal trials to a conclusion rather than dragging them out indefinitely in the interest of justice.
Harare magistrate Mrs. Vongai Guwuriro rejected Biti’s objection, deeming it without merit, and instructed him to proceed with his defense. Biti then maintained that he had not entered a plea, contending that the charge against him was flawed. As a result, the trial was adjourned until October 10.