By A Correspondent- The speedy conclusion of high-profile cases appears to be the new norm under the country’s new Prosecutor-General, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, who was appointed last month and promised to introduce “a culture of concluding cases”.
The conviction of high-profile cases including former Deputy Finance Minister Terrence Mukupe and Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya has since seen the National Prosecution Authority receiving plaudits from ordinary Zimbabweans.
Over the years, people said they were losing confidence in the NPA for taking forever to conclude high-profile cases.
This resulted in the public saying the NPA was engaging in a “catch and release” exercise, to “pacify those complaining of corruption in high places”.
However, that perception has changed dramatically in the last few days following the conviction of Rushwaya for attempting to smuggle gold to Dubai, through the VIP route at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport three years ago. The gold weighed 6kg and was valued at US$333 000.
Former Deputy Minister Mukupe was also convicted this week for importing more than 138 000 litres of diesel without paying duty.
Both are still to be sentenced, but generally sentence follows roughly a week after conviction, with the judge or magistrate having to preside over a sentence hearing that now incorporates factual evidence from the victim over what they lost, plus the normal argument in aggravation and mitigation.
The judge now has to apply the sentencing guidelines to the required degree, and produce a written sentencing judgment outlining their reasons for the sentence passed.
In separate interviews yesterday, Harare residents said the ongoing trend of prosecutions should be sustained to eradicate corruption in the country.
A resident of Old Tafara in Harare, Mr Tinashe Zisengwe, said the conviction of high-profile cases was commendable.
“The new Prosecutor-General (Justice Matanda-Moyo) is living true to her words that ‘the NPA needs to have a culture of hard work while concluding cases”, he said.
“We are glad to be witnessing that within her first month in office. It gives us confidence as citizens to see suspects being convicted of the crimes they committed”.
A Ruwa resident, Ms Rumbidzai Mawonde, said the speedy conclusion of cases was the way to go as justice delayed is usually justice denied.
“Some people were staying in remand prison for long while their cases were just dragging on. Others were walking scot-free in town as their cases took long to be concluded, leaving many people questioning the work ethic of the NPA and the courts.
“However, I am happy with the way cases are moving since the coming in of PG Matanda-Moyo.
“All that is needed is for the Government to support the new PG,” she said.
Mr Victor Dumba of Warren Park D, Harare, said: “We were used to the ‘catch and release syndrome’. Our only hope is that the current trend of prosecutions will continue”.
Mrs Annastancia Magorimbo said the fight against crime is the responsibility of every citizen.
“While I commend the new trend at the NPA, I still believe it is the duty of every Zimbabwean to combat crime,” she said.
PG Matanda-Moyo, who is the immediate-past chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, took her oath of office on October 10.
In her remarks, she bemoaned the slow pace of prosecution of cases.
“As I go into that office, we are definitely going to make some changes. We need a culture of hard work. We need a culture of concluding cases.
“Cases cannot proceed for a long time, cases must simply go into court while we are ready to prosecute and within the shortest period of time, cases must be concluded before the courts,” she said.
PG Matanda-Moyo said her job will be to institute and conduct criminal trials.
“So, I will be leading the team in the prosecution of criminal matters in Zimbabwe. I do understand that currently there is a backlog and our task is to clear that backlog,” she said. The Herald