Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya yesterday dismissed an application by former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko to have his trial transferred from Harare to Bulawayo.

Mphoko’s lawyer, Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara made the application yesterday when the former VP’s trial was supposed to start, arguing that his client resided in Bulawayo and did not have a house in Harare.

“My client was arrested in Bulawayo. His reporting conditions are in accordance with his residence in Bulawayo and the circumstances are causing undue hardships,” Zhuwarara submitted.
“Having the trial in Harare impairs his ability to co-ordinate his defence since the preparation of the defence is carried out three or four days before he appears in court.”

The court heard that Mphoko’s initial lawyer Zibusiso Ncube is in Bulawayo, therefore, the logistics will be difficult and expensive if the trial takes place in Harare.

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He also said Mphoko’s family is primarily in Bulawayo and he had to keep his family together, adding that the resources required to co-ordinate his defence were in Bulawayo as well as his business enterprise.

Zhuwarara said Mphoko would be forced to use road transport which may result in breakdowns like what happened before or accidents.

After Mujaya dismissed the application, Zhuwarara indicated that he would on Friday make an application for referral of the matter to the Constitutional Court as Mphoko felt his constitutional rights were being trampled upon.

Mphoko is facing charges of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly instructed police officers at Avondale Police Station in Harare to release two Zinara officials from holding cells without following procedure while he was Acting President on July 14, 2016.