HARARE — Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga testified in a closed-door session on Thursday in the trial of his ex-wife, who is accused of trying to kill him in 2019.
Marry Mubaiwa, a former model and businesswoman, faces charges of attempted murder. She has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.
Chiwenga, a former army general who led the coup that ousted longtime ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, arrived at the Harare Magistrates Court under tight security and used a separate entrance from the public. He was accompanied by his aides and bodyguards.
Magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka ordered journalists and spectators to leave the courtroom before Chiwenga took the stand, saying his privacy must be protected because of his office.
“The court needs to protect the office of the vice president. Public trial is mandatory but camera can be used in exceptional circumstances. The court can use its power to protect the privacy of the complainant. However by virtue of his office his privacy should be respected,” Chakanyuka ruled.
Prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti had filed the application but Mubaiwa’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa opposed the application saying all people are equal before the law and must testify in public.
She further told court that the matter must be heard in an open court as previous witnesses in the matter all testified in an open court.
“The state should have had filed this application from the onset,” Mtetwa said.
She said everything in this case is in the public domain adding there is no prejudice if this case is held in an open court.
“It does not matter (if) one is vice president, speaker or whoever, those sounding principle should be seen to be applied especially if powerful complainants are involved. All humans in terms of section 53 have inherent dignity. We respectfully submit that the vice president testify in an open court, in public,” she said.
“The media has been covering the proceedings. They are entitled to have this information. Please do not seek to curtail fundamental rights to access of information. The public needs to have the same information as the one it has been given by the media,” she said.
However Chakanyuka ruled against Mtetwa and the gallery be cleared.
Mubaiwa, who was arrested in December 2019, is accused of removing a medical intravenous drip as well as a central venous catheter from Chiwenga causing him to bleed profusely when he was hospitalized in South Africa.
Mubaiwa, who has been complaining that she had not seen her children in two years, denied Chiwenga’s claim that their children had not asked about her since she was arrested.
“He said the children have never asked about their mum. What bullshit is that? That is utter nonsense. He’s such a liar,” she told reporters as she left the court.