The Herald (Harare)

22 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Reynolds Convicted

Photo: newzimbabwe
Charged: Mel Reynolds arriving for the court hearing in Harare.

A Harare magistrate has ordered the immediate deportation of former United States Congressman for Chicago Melvin Jay Reynolds, who was convicted of overstaying in Zimbabwe.

Reynolds yesterday pleaded guilty to the charge before magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe.

Mr Mahwe ordered him to pay US$100 fine coupled with immediate deportation.

Failure to pay the fine, Reynolds would risk going to prison for five days.

Assistant regional immigration officer Mr Francis Mabika said they would comply with the court order and take necessary steps after checking how Reynolds would do.

"We are waiting for proper documentation from the courts. We will talk of deporting him after looking at what comes first. He might pay the fine and we will deport him afterwards.

"If he fails to pay the fine, we will deport him after he completes his five-day imprisonment term," said Mr Mabika.

On the charge of possession of pornographic material, Mr Mahwe removed Reynolds from remand after a successful application by his lawyer, Mr Arthur Gurira of Nyamushaya and Associates.

Mr Gurira challenged his client's replacement on remand on the basis that the State failed to produce a written authority to prosecute from the Attorney-General.

"In this particular instance, the mere fact that the accused is before this court and placed on remand, that on its own is a commencement of prosecution. Surprisingly, the State has not produced any written consent from the AG or his deputy as is required by the law.

"Your Worship, the written authority is a prerequisite for prosecution hence the law has to be complied with," he said.

If a person is facing allegations of contravening Section 26(1)(b) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, the State could only proceed to prosecute the accused if they have the authority to prosecute from the AG or his deputy because it is a prerequisite in terms of Section 26 (2) of the said Act.

Prosecutor Miss Sharon Mashavira opposed the application arguing that prosecution had not yet commenced since the accused had not been asked to plead.

"The State is of the view that prosecution at this stage has not commenced. The accused was arraigned before the court on February 19 with allegations of contravening the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act. Your Worship, he has not been asked his attitude towards the charge whether he is pleading guilty or not.

"The State is not yet even in possession of the docket and the written authority will be acquired when the State opens its case," she said.

Miss Mashavira said efforts were being made to have the written authority before producing a letter from the police addressed to the Censorship Board.

However, Mr Gurira objected to the production of the letter on the basis it was irrelevant to his application.

Mr Mahwe ruled in favour of the defence and ordered the State to stick to two things whether they had the written authority and if not, why they thought it was not important.

Miss Mashavira then sought for a postponement of the matter to Monday next week to allow the State to acquire the authority.

In his ruling Mr Mahwe said: "The State should have obtained the written authority and file it in the record. For compliance of the law, accused is removed from remand."

On November 13 last year Reynolds entered Zimbabwe through Plumtree Border Post on a business visa valid until November 27, 2013.

Reynolds did not extend his stay in the country since December 10 and did not return to the United States at the expiry of his permit.

It was also alleged that Reynolds had pictures of naked men and women having sexual intercourse on his iPhone 4s.

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