Tanzania: Court Questions Wema Sepetu's Sickness Claim

Wema Sepetu.

THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday pinned down Actress Wema Sepetu's mother, Mariam Sepetu, having her daughter failed to attend defence hearing session in the drugs abuse trial she is facing alongside her two house girls.

During the session, the mother, who was armed with some papers she described as medical sheets, informed Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba that her daughter was sick and had travelled to India for medical attention. She presented the documents to substantiate her position.

However, upon close scrutiny of the documents in question, both the magistrate and State Attorney Constantine Kakula, for the prosecution, doubted them as none of the papers was a medical sheet showing that the former Miss Tanzania was receiving treatment in India.

They noted that the bundle of the documents contained some travel papers. Upon been questioned by the magistrate, the mother threw the ball to Wema's advocate, Albert Msando, who was not in court, that he was the one conversant with legal matters and could be in a better position to explain the issue.

The magistrate, however, dismissed the line of argument as suggested by the mother, saying the court could not wait the advocate in order to conduct the hearing session.

Under such circumstance, the trial attorney moved the court to compel Wema to produce the medical documents on the next session.

Magistrate Simba granted the prosecution's request and directed Wema's mother to inform her daughter that on the next hearing date she must satisfy the court that indeed she was sick.

Otherwise, the magistrate warned, the court would take other legal steps. In the yesterday's proceedings, Wema and her co-accused persons, Angelina Msigwa and Matrida Abas, were to start to give their defence testimony in respect of the charges preferred against them by the prosecution after the court had found them with a case to answer.

The court ruled last month that the prosecution established a "prima facie" case against the trio sufficiently requiring them to give their defence evidence against the charges.

During the trial, the prosecution called five witnesses in attempt to prove that the accused persons committed the offences. In criminal proceedings, when an accused is found with case to answer, the court calls him or her to give defence evidence to disprove the prosecution's established "prima facie" case against him or her.

Prima facie means "sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted." It is also termed as prima facie evidence is an establishment of a legally required rebuttable presumption.

In the trial, the prosecution alleges that the accused persons committed the offence on February 2, 2017, at their residential house at Kunduchi-Ununio in Kinondoni District.

On the material day and the areas, jointly and together, the trio was allegedly found in illegal possession of one roll and two small pieces of cannabis sativa, commonly known as bhang weighing 1.08 grammes.

The accused persons were arraigned for the first time to answer the charge on February 22, 2017.

Sepetu is among people mentioned by the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda to have been dealing in one way or another with narcotic drugs.

She was required to report to the Central Police for questioning before her arraignment after the police investigation established tangible evidence to warrant her prosecution in the criminal trial.

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