By Robert Tapfumaneyi
CHIEF JUSTICE Luke Malaba says the State should be meticulous in preparing cases brought to court to avoid raising suspicions of the public when culprits are released due to lack of strong evidence.
The State and the judiciary have been at the receiving end, accused of arresting and releasing senior government and ruling party officials amid suspicions that they were bowing to pressure from powerful politicians.
“There must be knowledge on the part of the investigating, arresting details and prosecutor of the fundamental rights of an accused person, the enforcement of which would require a well thought out, carefully prepared and meticulously presented prosecution case to vindicate the administration of justice,” Malaba said during the official opening of the 2020 Legal Year Monday in Harare.
“Weak prosecution cases must not be brought to court. They only serve to frustrate the ends of justice because the suspects end up released at court for want of prosecution.”
“That scenario lends credence to the notorious of ‘catch and release’ coined by some sections of society.”
He added; “The NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) must be careful, conscientious and professional in executing its constitutional mandate of prosecuting criminal matters in courts.”
“It is the NPA that must also properly advise the investigating arms of the State, such as the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) and ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission), on the strength of evidence required in each criminal case.”
“If the NPA abdicates this crucial responsibility, the failure will serve to bring the administration of justice into disrepute as inconclusive evidence will be presented before the courts.”
Malaba said the fight against corruption should be never be interpreted as connivance by players in justice sector to send innocent people to jail.
“Arrest must be based on the existence of a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed the offence with which he or she is charged,” he said.
“Ordinarily when a decision is made to arrest a person on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence, the intention would be to bring him or her to court for remand or trial and that every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty and has access to a fair trial before an independent and impartial court.”