14 March 2018

Zimbabwe: 'Nyagura Must Remain On Remand'

The prosecution yesterday said University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura - accused of illegally awarding former First Lady Grace Mugabe a PhD should remain on remand pending his trial and that his application challenging placement on remand should be dismissed for lack of merit.

The prosecutor, Mr Michael Reza, who is dealing with the case, said the State laid sufficient evidence, which led to Nyagura being placed on remand, hence, he should be prosecuted.

This was in response to Nyagura's submission that there was no reasonable suspicion warranting his placement on remand.

Through his lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, Nyagura also made an application before magistrate Ms Tilda Mazhande to have the investigating officer called to the witness stand.

He argued that, "The investigating officer must, when the reasonableness of his suspicion is challenged, take oath and justify the same. He must be cross-examined. Only then can the court establish in the exercise of judicial power whether there was reasonable suspicion."

Mr Reza also urged the court to throw away the application sought by Nyagura to have the investigating officer cross-examined by the defence.

"The State believes that it has laid sufficient evidence for the court to rule that the accused is properly on remand and there is no reason to interfere with his placement on remand," he said.

"The defence has not submitted any reasons whatsoever to persuade the court to interfere with its earlier ruling that the accused should be placed on remand.

"The State, therefore, urges the honourable court to dismiss the two applications by the defence that is for the calling of the I.O and refusal of placement on remand for lack of merit."

According to the court papers, The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development's permanent secretary is cited as the complainant.

However, in a letter dated February 28 addressed to the Chief Government legal advisor Attorney-General Advocate Paul Machaya, the ministry lodged a complainant against Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) saying by citing the wrong person as the complainant, the court papers were defective.

The ministry said it never made a complaint to ZACC and does not intend to so adding that it was not involved in academic issues.

It argued that the issue was purely academic, which was the domain of the university through the council or senate.

"The ministry would want to bring it to your attention as the chief Government legal advisor that the ministry is not involved in academic issues. The issue is purely academic, which is the domain of the university through the council or senate," read the part of the letter.

The ministry further indicated that it was not qualified to comment or to make a determination or give an opinion on whether what Nyagura did was a criminal offence or not adding that it was supposed to be decided by the University council and senate.

The court will make its determination tomorrow.


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