GWANDA – Magistrate Lerato Nyathi has recused herself from a case involving David Thompson, a rich and well-connected Gwanda businessman from a family of gold miners, who faces two charges for contravening the Firearms Act and the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.
Nyathi recused herself from presiding over the matter, this week – on a day when she was expected to deliver ruling on Thompson’s application for discharge at the close of the state’s case.
The court was informed that after reading submissions, she felt unable to pursue the matter further.
Thompson has pleaded not guilty in a matter in which it is alleged that he pointed a gun at property assessors inspecting a property where he was resident. The second charge alleged he used a racial slur to degrade Tafadzwa Bondoro, referring to him as a baboon.
Thompson’s lawyers argue there is no evidence on which a reasonable court might properly convict, and that the evidence presented is unreliable. The state, however, believes they have proven a prima facie case on a balance of probabilities.
Two witnesses testified that Thompson pointed a firearm at them. His lawyers attempted to discredit them arguing that they presented minor discrepancies in their statements. The state countered that these discrepancies are immaterial, and at this stage only a prima facie case is needed.
The court heard Thompson came from his house, carrying a firearm, when told there were people looking for him at the gate. He allegedly told complainants there were baboons. The firearm which was produced in court by the investigating officer is the same as described by the complainants, argued prosecutors.
Prosecutors allege the evidence proves the essential elements of the offence, and have asked the court that the accused be put to his defence.
“Discrepancies in witnesses’ evidence must be of such magnitude and value that it changes the complexion of the matter. Otherwise, the discrepancies are immaterial, and the state has fulfilled its burden,” argued prosecutors.
The case will now await a new magistrate to preside over the matter and make a determination on Thompson’s application for discharge.