The attempted murder trial of former army commander Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Tlali Kamoli and four other soldiers failed to take off for the umpteenth time on Tuesday.
Zimbabwean Judge Charles Hungwe postponed the case to 2 November 2020 to give the state time to appoint pro deo lawyers to represent some of the accused whose lawyers have withdrawn from the case.
Pro deo lawyers are appointed by the state to represent accused persons who cannot afford their own lawyers or have failed to find their own lawyers.
Lt-Gen Kamoli's co-accused are Major Pitso Ramoepane, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Malefane Heqoa and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko.
They face attempted murder charges in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of former First Lady 'Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha-Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is represented by Advocate Letuka Molati while Major Ramoepane is represented by Adv Karabo Mohau. Captain Nyakane is without a lawyer after Adv Motiea Teele dropped him earlier this year.
Until Tuesday, Sergeant Heqoa and Corporal Seitlheko were represented by Adv Zwelakhe Mda. Adv Mda was not present in court on Tuesday. When the trial was about to get underway, the court was informed by one Adv Bolelang Mokatle that he (Adv Mda) would no longer be representing the two.
"I appear on behalf of Adv Mda and as per his instruction, I hereby put forth his notice of withdrawal from the matter as counsel for Accused 4 and 5 (Sergeant Heqoa and Corporal Seitlheko respectively)," Adv Mokoatle said.
He did not give any reasons for Adv Mda's withdrawal from the case.
Sergeant Heqoa and Corporal Seitlheko then asked the court to allow them to negotiate with Adv Mda to change his mind about withdrawing from the case or to find new lawyers.
However, Justice Hungwe rejected their request and instead ordered the registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Adv 'Mathato Sekoai, to appoint lawyers to represent them and Captain Nyakane.
"The registrar should appoint lawyers for Accused 3, 4 and 5 (Captain Nyakane, Sergeant Heqoa and Corporal Seitlheko respectively). The case is postponed to 2 November 2020 for trial," Justice Hungwe ordered.
He set a trial date despite being informed by Adv Molati that the accused would be moving a Constitutional Court application for the permanent stay of their trials on the grounds that their trials have taken too long to start. They argue that they should therefore be freed because the delays in trying them have violated their constitutional rights to speedy and fair trials.