FORMER Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday dumped his lawyer just before commencement of his trial at the Harare Magistrates Courts, forcing postponement of the matter to February 13.

Mphoko, who was previously being represented by advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, told magistrate Hosea Mujaya that he had now hired advocate Thembi Magwaliba to represent him in the criminal abuse of office trial.

The former Vice-President, who was yesterday represented by Zibusiso Ncube, asked for the postponement of the trial saying Magwaliba needed time to prepare his defence.

But the State opposed the application, saying further delays were inconveniencing witnesses who have been coming to court religiously since the matter was referred to the court for trial.

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Mujaya initially suggested that the matter be postponed to February 1 which is a Saturday, but Mphoko’s lawyer protested saying his client could not attend court on a day he is supposed to be in church. Mphoko is a member of the Seventh day Adventist Church.

“We cannot compromise on the issue of Sabbath. Our conditions are that we do not work on Sabbath and on this one we believe in a higher authority,” Ncube said.

Mujaya proposed Sunday, February 2 to have the trial, but again the suggestion faced another challenge.

The magistrate then postponed the matter to February 13, ordering Mphoko’s lawyer to file the defence outline three days before the trial date.