The Prosecutor-general Kumbirai Hodzi has been ordered to pay legal fees incurred by flamboyant businessman Wicknell Chivayo while defending his case at the Supreme Court as punishment for bungling with the appeal.
The state is challenging Chivayo’s acquittal by the High Court in the $5.6 million fraud case but the process will now come with a cost on the prosecutor-general after the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors could file their case after paying the businessman’s legal fees.
Supreme Court judge Justice Bharat Patel ordered Hodzi to pay the legal fees for being shoddy in handling the matter.
According to the order issued on Thursday, Patel ordered Hodzi to pay Chivhayo legal fees by May 31, 2019 or face consequences and the fees could run to more than $50 000.
“The application for condonation for non-compliance with the Supreme Court rules 2018 as read with the High Court rules 1971 be and is hereby granted. The applicants (prosecutor General) shall pay the costs of this application on the ordinary scale by not later than 4.00 pm on the 31 of May 2019,” Justice Patel ruled.
The appeal is an attempt by the state to fight a High Court decision to free Chivhayo on allegations of defrauding the Zimbabwe Power Company of $5,6million in a solar project.
The state now wants the last court of appeal to overturn such a ruling and this will come with a cost on them for their shoddy job.
“In the event that the applicant (prosecutor General) fails to comply with paragraph 4 (pay Chivhayo legal fees) above, the respondent (Chivhayo) be and hereby given leave to proceed against the applicant by way of proceedings for contempt of court,” the judge ruled.
Chivhayo was being represented by sought after lawyers in the form of Lewis Uriri and Sylvester Hashiti whose fees are not cheap.
The state represented by Sharon Fero and Zivanai Macharaga filed an appeal against the High Court decision to free Chivhayo but their papers and approach to the courts was described a childish by the Supreme Court judge who had no kind words for the state lawyers.
High Court judge Justice Owen Tagu had in March ruled that the charges against Chivhayo “apart from being suggestive of a skirmish, a mere witch hunt and a fishing expedition, tells more of a hidden hand or mala fides intention in the institution of the criminal proceedings brought about by the state in the circumstances.”
Chivhayo and his company were facing charges of defrauding ZPC of over $5,6 million he received for the Gwanda solar project.
But the High Court ruled that the allegations were driven by malice.
“The charges against the appellant as revealed by the facts are undoubtedly contrived and were properly excepted to. The relationship between the complaint and both applicants is contractual and therefore any remedy for a dispute arising there from should be civil and in terms of the contract,” Justice Tagu ruled.
The judge said under in whatever circumstances, it was improbable that Chivhayo would be convicted by any reasonable court given the facts availed before him.