Biti Appeals Conviction and Sentence at High Court

By Staff Reporter

Constitutional lawyer Tendai Biti has filed a notice of appeal at the High Court against both his conviction and sentence handed down by Harare Magistrates Vongai Guwuriro.

Biti was convicted of assault as defined in Section 89(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) following a verbal altercation outside Harare Magistrates Court in November 2020 with Russian businesswoman and West Properties chief operations officer Tatiana Aleshina.

He was sentenced on February 27, 2024, and ordered to pay a fine of three hundred United States dollars (US$300.00), with the alternative of six months’ imprisonment.

Additionally, six months’ imprisonment was wholly suspended for five years, conditioned upon Biti not being convicted of a similar offense during this period.

In his appeal through his lawyer Alec Muchadehama, Biti contends that the Magistrates Court erred in determining his case on the merits, despite pertinent outstanding matters filed at the High Court.

“The Court a quo grossly erred and misdirected itself in proceeding with the trial when it was obliged to refer the Appellants matter to the Constitutional Coast of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 175(4) of the Constitution given, the constitutional questions had arisen in the matter and further when requests were made by the appellant for such referral.

“The Court a quo also grossly erred and misdirected itself in refusing to refer the Appellant’s matter to the Constitutional Court on the basis that Appellant’s request was frivolous and vexatious when in fact and in law such a request was Justified in terms of Section 175(4) of the Constitution regard being had to the of violation of Appellants constitutional rights that had been raised during the request,” said Biti

Biti also contests the conviction itself, claiming that the state failed to establish his intention and actus reus beyond a reasonable doubt. He argues that the court erred in placing the burden of proof on him and in convicting him without sufficient evidence.

“Furthermore, the Court quo grossly erred and misdirected itself in convicting the Appellant when hi version of events was not challenged by the State let alone proved on a balance of probabilities to be false,” he argues

Regarding the sentence, Biti asserts that it was excessive and induced a sense of shock and outrage. He argues that the imposition of a fine and suspended imprisonment term was unwarranted given the de minimis nature of the offense and the mitigating factors presented during the trial.

In light of these arguments, Biti seeks to have his conviction and sentence quashed and set aside by the High Court.

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