At the conclusion of his trial in the High Court, the applicant was convicted of murder, as defined in s 47(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) [Chapter 9:23] (“the Criminal Law Code”). The first respondent presided over the trial. The applicant was sentenced to eighteen years’ imprisonment. He is dissatisfied with the manner in which his case was investigated prior to the trial. The facts of the case are as follows.
The applicant was the second-in-command of the security forces tasked with the duty of protecting Chiadzwa Diamond Mine. It is averred that on 23 September 2011 four brothers were arrested in one of the “diamond fields”. They were detained in an open wire enclosure under police and army guard while awaiting transportation to the court in Mutare.
At 22:00 hours of the same day one of the brothers (hereinafter referred to as “the deceased”) was found dead, lying face down in the enclosure. As a result, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Marange Criminal Investigations Department attended the sudden death scene. Investigations were carried out by the third respondent. The applicant said that the third respondent transported the body of the deceased to the Mutare Hospital Mortuary for a post-mortem to be carried out to establish the cause of death.
It is the applicant’s case that the Zimbabwe Republic Police sent the “sudden death docket” to the second respondent, who was the prosecutor in the criminal trial, instead of transmitting the same to the resident magistrate for assessment, purportedly in terms of the Inquests Act [Chapter 7:07] (“the Inquests Act”). It is contended that the second respondent, not being authorised to process a sudden death docket, violated the applicant’s right to a fair trial. The applicant submits that his prosecution before the High Court was instituted on a defective charge because the inquest proceedings had not been conducted in a manner that complied with the Inquests Act.