MP's fraud case takes another twist
MBABANE – The case of alleged fraud and forgery involving Khubuta MP Charles Myeza and others took another twist as lawyer Sipho Gumedze raised constitutional matters.
Gumedze represents Myeza’s wife Phumzile and Musa Ngwenya as well the company PPC Electrical in the matter.
The accused, at the close of the Crown’s case filed an application for discharge and acquittal on the grounds that the state did not place sufficient evidence warranting their conviction.
Gumedze yesterday told High Court Judge Nkululeko Hlophe that the crown had a duty to prove all elements of fraud in the case, in terms of the provisions of common law, before the accused are called to give their defence.
He said all the 21 Crown witnesses had not proven any element of fraud against Phumzile and Ngwenya. The two and Myeza are alleged to have defrauded the Royal Swaziland Police money using PPC Electrical.
They are alleged to have claimed to have done some electrical work at various police stations and submitted invoices for payment.
It is alleged that the invoices were inflated or there had been no work carried out. They pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Gumedze argued that it was not in dispute that Phumzile was a director of PPC electrical, but since there was a contract between the company and the police service, she could not have questioned monies that came into the company’s coffers.
"It was not like she was signing for money that was unknown," Gumedze said.
He said in terms of Section 338 (1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence (CPE) Act, in criminal proceedings against a company, the Secretary, Director, Manager or Chairman of the company would be charged with the offence, unless otherwise stated and shall be liable to be punished if it has not been proven that he did not take part in the commission of the offence or could not have prevented it.
Gumedze argued that the section was in conflict with Section 21 (a) of the Constitution, which provided that a person shall be presumed innocent until proven or has pleaded guilty to an offence. He also said the section of the CPE Act was inconsistent with the Constitution’s section 20 (9) which stipulated that a person who is tried for a criminal offence shall not be compelled to give evidence at the trial. He said the Constitution was the supreme law of the country and if any law was inconsistent with it, it was declared null and void in so far as the inconsistency.
The matter was postponed to June 12, 2012 to allow the Director of Public Prosecutions Nkosinathi Maseko to respond. Judge Hlophe noted that Gumedze’s submissions were interesting.
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