HIGH COURT OF ZIMBABWE
HARARE, 6 June 2018
MABHIKWA J: This matter was placed before me for review. The accused is a 16-year-old juvenile, a girl residing at No. 180 Shinga Street, Dombotombo, Marondera and doing form 3. On 12 February 2018, at around 1400 hours, she is alleged to have been picked up at Chizori farm bus stop by the complainant, one Tawanda Tizora who was driving a Mazda Bongo vehicle registration No. AEO 1179, most likely a combi. At Muniwa Business Centre, she asked for the complainant’s eco-cash number so that she could pay the fare. The complainant parked his vehicle at a garage and went to relieve himself at a nearby bush. When he returned, the accused had stolen the vehicle and disappeared. She allegedly was involved in a road accident in Kadoma along the Harare-Bulawayo road and was advised by Kadoma Police to produce her driver’s licence within seven days. She was later arrested in Kwekwe.
She was then arraigned before a regional magistrate at Murehwa Court on 16 April 2018. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years which was wholly suspended for 5 years on condition that during that period, she does not commit any offence involving dishonesty for which she is convicted and sentenced to prison without the option of a fine.
It is the manner in which the regional magistrate handled the plea recording which raises concerns.
Firstly, I noted that the learned magistrate did not, at the commencement of trial explain to the accused the provisions of s 191 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, in compliance with the requirements of s 163 A of the same Act. Section 163 A provides as follows;