16 March 2018

Zimbabwe: Nyagura Has Case to Answer - Magistrate

A Harare magistrate yesterday ruled that University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Levi Nyagura has a case to answer and must remain on remand pending trial.

Nyagura is accused of illegally awarding former First Lady Grace Mugabe a PhD.

He had, through his lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, challenged placement on remand, arguing that there was no reasonable suspicion warranting placement on remand.

Nyagura made another application to have the investigating officer called to the witness stand so that he could be cross-examined on certain issues relating to his placement on remand.

The prosecutor Mr Michael Reza opposed the applications, saying the State laid sufficient evidence, which led to Nyagura being placed on remand.

The State argued that Nyagura must stand trial.

In her ruling, Ms Tilda Mazhande said the defence failed to provide sufficient reasons to support the application for refusal of placement on remand.

"The State has the elements of the charge, then linked each element to the allegations in the remand form," she said. "The State gave several reasons for accused's placement on remand, therefore, the defence should have stated reasons why their client should be removed from remand, but did not."

Ms Mazhande said the issue of whether procedures were followed in placing Nyagura on remand or not were triable issues.

"There is a reasonable suspicion that the accused did what he is alleged to have done," she said.

Nyagura was further remanded to April 5.

Nyagura allegedly unprocedurally awarded a PhD to Mrs Mugabe without the approval of both the University Council and the Senate Committee.

According to the court papers, Secretary for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development is 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 complaint against Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), saying that 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 as 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.

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