MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa made a surprise appearance at the Harare Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning to offer support to the party’s organising secretary Amos Chibaya and his deputy Sibusisiwe Budha who were appearing before Magistrate Gloria Takundwa.
Chamisa was however only able to sit through the first session before the court adjourned and did not return when the case resumed.
According to the state Chibaya and Budha face allegations of failing to stop the public from engaging in a demonstration when they were legally obliged to do so.
Chibaya and Budha sought refusal of further remand when they appeared before the court, arguing that the State’s witnesses had failed to attend hence the matter was not supposed to be postponed.
Magistrate Takundwa however allowed the postponement, saying that though the State witnesses were not present the court would give the prosecution its last chance.
She ruled that the case continues on March 11, but if the State witnesses were not in attendance, the court would remove Chibaya and Budha from remand.
Chibaya and Budha through their lawyers then submitted that they were applying for Magistrate Takundwa to recuse herself from the matter, arguing that she seemed impartial.
“We have instructions from the accused person that if the matter is proceeding on that day, we will make an application for the magistrate’s recusal.
“The basis of that application is that we are seriously doubting the impartiality of the court,” submitted defence lawyer Obey Shava.
Magistrate Takundwa will rule on the application for recusal on March 11.
Allegations are that on August 6 last year, Chibaya and Budha notified the regulating authority for Harare Central Police district, of an intended public demonstration in central business district (CBD) on August 16 last year, in the terms of section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act.
It is said that on August 15, Chibaya and Budha were served with a prohibition notice by Chief Superintendent Billa James Simbanechako.
The court heard that on August 16, Chibaya and Budha convened a public demonstration or caused members of the public to gather for a public demonstration in the Harare CBD in defiance of the prohibition notice.
It is alleged Chibaya and Budha as the conveners of the public demonstration, failed to comply with the prohibition notice and did not stop the public from engaging in the public demonstration when they had a legal duty to do so.