By Mary Taruvinga
HIGH Court judge, Justice David Mangota has attacked the state for clinging to title deeds belonging to exiled former Cabinet minister, Saviour Kasukuwere’s Mutare holiday home saying there was no justification for that action.
The judge said this in a recent ruling following the state’s application to appeal against his own ruling ordering the release of the deeds last year.
Mangota said the state failed to present its case technically such that its arguments was hanging on nothing to compel him to rule otherwise.
“The charges upon which the applicant’s prosecution was anchored were quashed. They became a nullity from which nothing flows,” said Mangota.
“He became a free man who was entitled not only to the bail which he deposited with the court but also to the title deed of his property. He surrendered the same to the court as a way of gaining his freedom. He gained the same when the court quashed the charges.
“Given the lackadaisical approach which NPA dealt with the applicant’s in lime matter, its apparent lack of interest in the same as measured against the weighty submissions which the applicant made mention of in his preliminary matter. I was left with no option but to grant his motion as he prayed for it,” ruled the judge.
Kasukuwere had applied for immediate release of his title deeds after charges against him were quashed.
The judge upheld Kasukuwere’s motion saying he was “satisfied that the state had no basis for continuing to hold onto the title deed of the applicant’s property. The state on its part did not support its position to the retention by it of the applicant’s property.
Mangota also ruled that Kasukuwere proved his case on a balance of probabilities and that the title deed of his property was, accordingly, released to him.
On October 9 2019, Mangota granted Kasukuwere title deeds to his home.
The title deed is number 7010/2003 of subdivision D of Manchester in the district of Umtali which was forfeited to the state by order of Senior Regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya on March 25 2019.
This was after he failed to return to the court after he was granted permission to visit South Africa on grounds that he wanted to seek medication.
Besides forfeiture of his property, Kasukuwere was also issued with a warrant of arrest.
He then approached the High Court with an application for review of the decision of the magistrate who ordered forfeiture of his property, an application he won before High Court judge. Justice Tawanda Chitapi quashed charges against him.
The ruling ordering release of his title deeds came at a time Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi had applied for leave to appeal against Chitapi’s in the Supreme Court under case number SC550/19.
Hodzi then filed an urgent application saying he feared Kasukuwere would dispose his property leaving him with no any other recourse in case he wins the Supreme Court challenge.
But High Court judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero struck off the case from the urgent roll before he ordered Hodzi to pay costs of suit to Kasukuwere.
Through Zivanai Macharaga, Hodzi said the High court erred in clearing a fugitive.
Mangota however ruled that the conduct by the prosecutor who was handling the case, Macharaga’s of the president’s special anti-corruption unit was amiss.
“Their lack of consultation could not be blamed on the court or on the applicant. The blame lay squarely within their courtyard,” he said before he ordered release of Kasukuwere’s title deeds.