The State yesterday successfully applied for proceedings in the trial of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko be heard in camera to ensure the protection of State secrets.
Mphoko is facing abuse of office charges after he allegedly instructed some police officers to release former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive Moses Juma from police cells.
Prosecutor Mr. Lovett Masuku told the court that he had agreed with Mphoko’s defense for the matter to be heard in camera.
“The State is of the view that proceedings should be heard in camera, the basis for the application is that the evidence likely to be adduced will not be good in terms of State security,” said prosecutor Mr. Lovett Masuku.
Mr. Masuku, however, said they had not reached a consensus on the issue of allowing his immediate family in the trial since they are not bound by the Official Secrets Act.
Responding to the State’s application, Mphoko’s lawyer Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba insisted that the accused person’s immediate family should be present during the trial. He said the accused person cannot be cut out from his family members.
“Indeed the court has the discretion to exclude all persons or any class of persons during the trial, but the accused person’s immediate family members cannot be excluded,” he said.
Harare regional magistrate Mr. Trynos Utahwashe ruled that the matter should be heard in camera and that Mphoko’s immediate family can attend the trial to give him moral support.
He said the accused has a right to a fair trial.
“All persons who are not court officials or the accused’s immediate family members are excluded and the whole proceedings shall not be publicly disclosed and should be heard in camera,” said Mr. Utahwashe.