Murehwa Magistrate Terrence Mashaire acquitted Lawrence Berejena, the former spiritual advisor of the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, of contempt of court charges Monday.
The trial revolved around allegations made by Headman Mungoni, who claims that Pastor Berejena showed contemptuous behavior during a local court session where he presided over a case involving the pastor’s elderly mother, who is 82 years old.
According to Mungoni, during the court session, the former Tsvangirai aide clicked his tongue and brazenly ordered his mother to leave the proceedings.
The witnesses detailed that when a judgment was delivered concerning the accused’s mother, Berejena had requested a written judgment, indicating his intention to make an appeal.
However, during the trial, a discrepancy emerged between the State’s outline and the witnesses’ testimonies.
In his ruling, Magistrate Mashaire said the discrepancy was not adequately addressed by the State, leading to uncertainty about what precisely transpired during the court proceedings.
The court noted that the critical issue of the accused’s intention when requesting a written judgment was not convincingly established through evidence presented by the prosecution.
Both witnesses who took the stand affirmed that Berejena had made the request after the presiding officer had already delivered the judgment.
The court emphasized that it was vital for the State to provide evidence elucidating Berejena’s intention at the time of the request.
In addition, Magistrate Mashaire stressed that the intention of the person accused of contempt must be clearly proven.
The court found that a prima facie case against Berejena was not adequately demonstrated, leading to the granting of an application for discharge.
“The state failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused so application for discharge is hereby granted,” said Magistrate Mashaire in his ruling.
Pastor Berejena was represented by Jacob Tuso of Tavenhave and Machingauta Legal Practitioners.