Magistrate’s Bid To Reverse Livestreaming Of Biti’s Trial Hits Brickwall

By Own Correspondent| Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa’s bid to reverse an earlier decision granting livestreaming rights to the media in the trial of MDC deputy chairperson Tendai Biti hit a brick wall after a High Court Judge ruled that her earlier decision stood.

In her application to the High Court, Takundwa sought reversal of her earlier ruling saying she had made the decision in “error”.

In a text message presented to the court by Biti’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, a senior prosecutor Michael Reza labelled Takundwa as “very stupid or very brave or both”.

Reza was commenting on the magistrate’s decision to allow livestreaming of the case before consulting her boss.

However, her bid hit a brickwall, with the High Court saying her earlier decision should stand.

Biti, who stands accused of illegally announcing results of the July 30 poll, had through his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa applied for livestreaming of the matter, arguing it was of public interest.

Chief law officer prosecutor Reza, who was recused from the case, in a leaked message early this week, allegedly described the magistrate as “very stupid or very brave or both” for allowing livestreaming of the case without consulting Chief Justice Luke Malaba.

Mtetwa then complained to Takundwa seeking to have Reza held in contempt of court, but the magistrate postponed the matter, saying she wanted to seek guidance from the High Court.

In her letter to the High Court, Takundwa said she granted the order for livestreaming in error.

“May you urgently place before a judge to review these proceedings on the grounds as stated that I am of the firm view that jurisdiction was absent in light of the fact that the application for media livestreaming was done in terms of the right to access to information,” she said.

“I granted the order in error in that no specific media house was appointed nor mentioned and whether such media house is licensed. There is no law regulating such an application, so the court acted outside the confinement of the law.”

But High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa declined to consider the review, saying Takundwa filed her letter without submissions of the proceedings for the State and defence.

Musakwa said he had no idea of what Takundwa considered in granting the application and said she should have accompanied her letter with detailed reasons that had been cited in court.

“I also note in passing that the trial magistrate granted livestreaming to unspecified media houses.”-Newsday

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