The Herald (Harare)

4 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Ex-Rbz Chief Faces Contempt of Court

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono could be charged with contempt of court for publicly claiming that he had evidence about the Facebook character Baba Jukwa when the matter is before the courts.

Dr Gono claimed in a daily paper on Tuesday that he had been conducting his own investigations and had gathered evidence about Baba Jukwa and Amai Jukwa.

Legal practitioners said the former Governor could be charged for making public statements about a case that was before the courts.

"The matter is sub judice in terms of the criminal trial of The Sunday Mail editor (Edmund Kudzayi)," said Mr Terrence Hussein of Hussein and Ranchod Legal Practitioners. "It would be wrong for him (Dr Gono) to have a parallel expose of the whole matter because only the courts now will be seized with the matter.

"If he has such fantastic evidence as he claims, he needs to assist the police by providing evidence. But this is also double-edged because he must be prepared to stand up and defend that evidence in court and in particular tell the court where and how he obtained the evidence."

Mr Wellington Pasi of Manase and Manase said while the Constitution gave every citizen a right to freedom of expression, it was important for them to know that the duty (to try cases) lay with the State.

"So, if you have any information in the interest of the State then you are duty-bound to the fullest extent of such knowledge that you possess to give it to the State," he said.

"It would now be improper for one to brag in the media that they have evidence, but do not involve the police who are the first port of call in all criminal investigations in Zimbabwe.

"The risk is that when it is discovered that he was hiding or preventing information he will be charged with seeking to defeat the course of justice because he is withholding vital information which has the potential to bring this case to rest."

Another lawyer who requested anonymity said: "He is getting himself in a fix by claiming to know better than those involved in the case.

"I don't understand why he is being a megaphone on issues that have a potential to get him in trouble. This Baba Jukwa case is sensitive, so for him to come out and make such revelations will surely excite those who are investigating the case to request that evidence.

"The court could actually charge him for contempt because they are seized with this matter."

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said they would not on issues before the courts.

"The Baba Jukwa case is pending before the courts and its sub-judice for police to comment," she said.

Contacted for comment on why he was commenting on matters before the courts and holding vital information when the police were already dealing with the matter which is before the courts, Dr Gono declined to comment.

Edmund and his brother Philip are accused of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected Government and undermining the President's authority. According to the prosecution, Phillip acquired an Econet line 0771 446 541 and created an account babajukwa 2013@gmail.com using the line.

He allegedly went on to create the Baba Jukwa Facebook account.

Police are looking for several people in different parts of the world linked to the Baba Jukwa character which thrived on character assassination and causing alarm and despondency among citizens.

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