Senior Court Reporter
MDC-Alliance activist Netsai Marova, who is facing a number of criminal charges at the Harare Magistrates Court including making a false report about her alleged abduction, yesterday could not get her passport temporarily released to travel to Liberia for a young women development programme as the deadline for acceptance had already passed.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje dismissed her application saying she should have approached the court before March 26, a date when she was supposed to confirm her interest in undertaking the development programme and noted her lawyer failed to submit evidence that proved that the deadline for confirming her participation had been extended.
Marova, through lawyer Mr Charles Kwaramba, told the court that the programme would give her an opportunity to advance herself as a young woman.
Mr Kwaramba said Marova has demonstrated that she can be trusted with bail conditions since she has never violated any of the bail conditions imposed against her.
"She wants to travel to Liberia from April 11 to 19 and wants the temporary release for her passport to travel to attend the educational trip. The exchange visit is a special program intended for development of young women in Africa. She is desirous to engage in this personal programme. This programme is an opportunity for personal advancement in life."
The lawyer noted that the bail system was not supposed to put the ordinary life of accused is not put on a standstill pending duration of trial. "Participating in these forums is an opportunity for accused person to continue with life while trial continues," he said.
Mr Kwaramba said State would not suffer any prejudice is Marova's passport was temporarily released.
"She has religiously appeared in court when she was due to appear. She has therefore proved that she can stand trial even when given an opportunity to personally develop. It's for a week and State will not suffer prejudice. She has no interest in absconding. She intends, at all cost, to go for trial to have her name cleared," he said.
Mr Michael Reza, appearing for the State, opposed to the application said the invitation period lapsed 11 days ago and there was no reason for the court to release the passport. He said Marova was given up to March 26 to respond to the invitation, but failed to do so before the due date.
"A look at the invitation letter shows it is purely for academic purposes. The very last sentence of the invitation letter says March 26 was the late date to accept this invitation. This application should have been done some 11 days ago. Organisers of this are not expecting her anymore. The basis of this application is per letter," he said.
Mr Reza said Marova was set to appear in court on April 28 on allegations of faking her abduction along with other MDC-Alliance Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri and once she fails to return, the trial will not kick-off.
"Accused appears on three separate records and she is expected to return to court on April 28 for trial on making false reports. If she does not return for any reason, then that trial will not be possible.
"The State has nothing against accused in her personal development. The State would have congratulated her because this country needs women who are developed.
"But because of these cases her freedom of movement can be interfered," he said.