THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam has acquitted five security guards and eight of their colleagues after they spent more than 642 days in custody.
The judgment follows the prosecution’s failure to prove a prima facie case by not calling witnesses in the Hennessy liquor theft and armed robbery trials facing the accused.
Principal Resident Magistrate Ramadhani Rugemalila set free the accused after the prosecution failed to call witnesses under the excuse that they were outside Dar es Salaam on business issues, and the other two witnesses had already been warned by the court to make sure they appeared in court on time.
Moreover, the magistrate said that the case has been adjourned more than five times, requiring the prosecution to call witnesses, but they were unable to do so, resulting in the case not being heard for 462 days.
“The court cannot hesitate to use its powers when the prosecution is abusing its authority by hurting the accused, who stayed in custody for more than 600 days.” The trial magistrate elaborated.
“The accused are acquitted according to Section 230 of the CPA (Criminal Procedure Act). It is so ordered.”
He added that two witnesses were ordered by the court to come to court on the date of the trial, but they did not show up, meaning they disobeyed the court’s order.
Elaborating further, the trial magistrate said he was surprised that the prosecution failed to even call the vital witness (Filipo Paulo), who in the trial is allegedly threatened with a gun and kidnapped. Due to the circumstances, 10 accused are in custody because the armed robbery trail is an unbailable offence under the CPA.
The court records show that the accused appeared before court for the first time on August 12, 2021, before the Principal Resident Magistrate (PRM), Joseph Lwambano.
“And, then the case was dismissed by the PRM, Yusto Ruboroga, under Section 225, and the accused were arrested again and brought before me on February 22, last year,” he explained.
In a similar vein, the court has issued an order for the exhibits provided in the case, including the cars, to be returned to their owners.
Before the decision was made, the accused was defended by defence lawyer Peter Kibatala.
Some of the accused in the trial were: Severin Mkumi (43) a resident of Makonde; Erick Rwehumbizi (33) a resident of Tabata Kisukuru; Engeleberth Chiwalo (32) a resident of Mbagala; Salma Mohamed (51) a resident of Mbagala; and Veronica Ismail (21) a resident of Tabata Barakuda.
According to the prosecution, it is alleged that on June 26, 2021, the accused, while in Mikocheni B, Kinondoni District, in Dar es Salaam, stole 717 cartons of Hennessy liquor worth over 408m/- belonging to MMI Tanzania Wine and Spirit PVT Ltd.