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Macabre spectacle as frail Mubaiwa is put on trial

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Macabre spectacle as frail Mubaiwa is put on trial

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PAIN is written all over her face as she makes her way up the staircase to the courtroom where her trial is being heard.

The estranged wife of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Marry Mubaiwa, is unable to walk by herself and is being assisted by an aide. The aide sticks with her from the car right until she gets in the dock.

She is answering to a fraud charge after she allegedly forged her husband’s signature to upgrade their customary marriage.

The sickly former model is also facing other charges, including attempted murder, money laundering and assault, charges which arose following her fallout with the former army general who is also the Health minister.

Adding to her woes, she is also going through divorce with Chiwenga, with the hearing having been delayed due to her sickness.

Mubaiwa is battling lymphoedema, a condition that has left her limbs deformed.

That has not stopped her from being dragged to court, despite her serious illness.

She also has not had sight of her minor children for two years now, something doctors say is causing depression, thereby aggravating her illness .

The former model insists that she is unable to stand trial because of her ill health, but the courts have turned down her request for the postponement of her prosecution.

When she insisted, she ended locked up at Harare Remand Prison after Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube detained her under the Mental Health Act, which requires one to be locked up while being seen by state doctors.

She was, however, released following a successful appeal filed through her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

Her trial began last week and the other cases are still pending before the courts.
Mtetwa says her client is in pain.

When her trial opened, she asked the court to play a video in which blood was dripping blood from Mubaiwa’s right hand.

Even as the case is being heard, she sometimes falls asleep during the hearing. She has to lean against her aide in pain.

The court heard she is taking sedatives and painkillers which heavily drug her body and make it impossible for her to be fit for trial.

Meanwhile, all the witnesses except one have exonerated Mubaiwa in their testimonies.

The chief witness, former Judge President George Chiweshe, distanced himself from the saga, stating that former chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi handled the alleged wedding. Chiweshe had nothing much to strengthen the state’s case and said he only referred Mubaiwa to Mutevedzi after she approached him as his niece stating that she wanted to formalise her marriage.

“I assumed it was a request from the couple. Don’t forget Chiwenga had paid lobola, living together and having children, so I had no reason to suspect. I had no reason to suspect what Mary was asking for had not been discussed with her husband,” Chiweshe said.

Mutevedzi, now a High Court judge, on Tuesday said the alleged wedding never took place.

He said he is shocked where the National Prosecuting Authority picked information that he solemnised Mubaiwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s wedding.

“I don’t know where the state got that l issued a marriage licence. There was no such an application under oath before me. Taking of oath and signing the licence was never done as far as l know. A party on marriage cannot consent on behalf of the other party without that person physically on the ground,” he said.

Mutevedzi however confirmed that the issue was brought to his office by Chiweshe.

“When he made that request, I then said I will personally solemnise that marriage. I took that decision because judges are not marriage officers in Zimbabwe. I had became the highest-ranking judicial officer in Zimbabwe and sending any other junior magistrate would have been unrespectful to the vice-president.”

Mutevedzi told court that he then requested identity particulars of the couple to marry from Justice Chiweshe and they were brought to his office by a person whom he cannot remember.

He further said there were documents that were needed to be completed under supervision and these were the application for marriage licence and affidavit of the couple consenting to wed.

“The couple were intended to get married on July 2, 2019. When l realised that there was information missing about the residential address, l called JSC secretary Walter Chikwana and l thought it prudent to access those details for me through that office since it was a superior office,” Mutevedzi said.

Mutevedzi said on 2 July 2019 he was accompanied by Thembinkosi Msipa of the Judicial Service Commission to Chiwenga’s residence in Borrowdale Brook.

However, when they arrived at the residence they waited in vain before they decided to go back to their office.

Mutevedzi said two days later he canceled the application for marriage licence and unissued marriage certificate.

“In summary, nobody then contacted me until investigations started being made,” he said.
Chikwanha also gave his testimony, but said he had nothing to say as he was not there during whatever happened.

However, another witness, Nyarai Bwanya, who was the vice-president’s aide, told court that Mubaiwa forged a marriage certificate.

She said she heard Mubaiwa talking about the wedding on the phone with someone before she was tasked to plan for the wedding. Mubaiwa denies the allegations.

It is her argument that she would not have coerced a grown up to consent to the wedding.

She said they planned the wedding over a long period, but there were disturbances which disrupted them all the time.

“As she was pregnant with the parties’ first child at the time of the roora, no date was agreed to as at the time of the payment of roora. She delivered the parties’ first child on the 4 November, 2011 and she fell pregnant soon thereafter and gave birth to their second child on the 15th November, 2012 with a third pregnancy following soon thereafter with the parties’ last child being born on the 13th February, 2014,” Mtetwa submitted on behalf of Mubaiwa.

“Owing to the successive pregnancies within a short period of time, she will say that her back was considerably weakened and she suffered from back pain, resulting in the intended wedding being shelved until her back had become better. During the same period, the complainant suffered from various illnesses which included an operation for severe sinusitis. Although they spoke about the wedding from time to time, a date was never set due to their various medical conditions, the complainant’s busy schedule and the bomb blast they were involved in.”

She said when Chiwenga was in India in 2019, where he was receiving treatment, they agreed that they would have a small wedding.

Mubaiwa said they ordered wedding rings from Chiwenga’s client and she could not have done so without his knowledge.

She said she could not coerce an adult into a marriage without his consent.

“She will contend that the prosecution is part of her continued persecution through the use of the criminal justice system, all done in an endeavour to force her to abandon her rights in the pending matrimonial action before the High Court. In particular, she will deny that she did anything which can remotely be categorised as a contravention of section 35 of the Act,” Mtetwa submitted.

Trial continues next week. —STAFF WRITER.

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