PROSECUTORS from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have taken over the trial of Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Gift Machengete after several false starts to the case.
Machengete is accused of violating Procurement Act provisions after he allegedly engaged a local company to purchase Container Village Information Centres (CVICS) valued at $1 494 104 without going to tender.
Machengete was being tried by members from the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as part of his pledge to deal with corruption.
When Machengete appeared in court yesterday, his trial was postponed again after the State indicated that Michael Reza, who was engaged at the High Court, will take over prosecution.
Previously, Thabani Mpofu - who heads the special graft team - was handling the case.
Ephraim Zinyandu sought a postponement to June 19 to allow Reza to familiarise himself with the case while highlighting that Mpofu travelled to Egypt on national duty.
His lawyer, Farai Zuva, opposed the application for postponement, arguing that trial was set down for March but State is always seeking postponements. "The record will show that in the last court appearance, Mpofu personally appeared in court and sought a postponement to this date.
"The State is only communicating to us now that another prosecutor will be taking over the matter," Zuva said. "I apply that the accused be removed from remand especially considering warnings by this court that it will not tolerate further postponements.
"The State can proceed by way of summons once it puts its house in order," he added. Trial magistrate Hosea Mujaya castigated the State for seeking an umpteenth postponement. "What seems to be the State's problem in this matter? It has been one postponement after the other at a trial court," Mujaya questioned.
"Whether the matter is now being handled by special unit, NPA or more special units, we cannot go on like this ... I hope the NPA takeover will bring sanity in the way this case is being handled," Mujaya added before "grudgingly granting one last postponement". Mujaya undertook to remove Machengete from remand if trial fails to proceed on June 19.
In previous appearances, Mujaya slammed Mpofu for belittling his court after he absconded court and sent his subordinate to seek a postponement. This was after Mpofu failed to respond to Machengete's application for exception despite having undertaken to do so more than three times.
On another date, Zuva appeared on the bar alone seeking a postponement on behalf of the State as Mpofu was not in attendance.
This irked Mujaya, who refused to grant a further postponement in Mpofu's absence.
Mpofu appeared in court the following day and asked that the matter be postponed to yesterday.