Former Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the High Court dismissed all the criminal charges he was facing.
Mr Tomana had approached the court seeking an order dismissing all charges levelled against him after the State failed to prosecute him within the prescribed indictment period.
Justice Amy Tsanga granted the application by Mr Tomana, who was being represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, instructed by Mr Hubert Mukewa.
The judge declared the charges to have lapsed.
She said Mr Tomana was also entitled to his unconditional liberty and should be given back the bail he deposited with the court.
“The criminal charges brought against Johannes Tomana in CRB 197/16, being six counts of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer as defined in Section 174(1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) (Chapter 9:23), alternatively defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in Section 184(1) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) (Chapter 9:23) be and are hereby dismissed,” said Justice Tsanga.
“Applicant shall be entitled to his unconditional liberty and to the release to him of his bail recognisance that is held by the State.”
Mr Tomana was facing a litany of criminal abuse of office charges and was indicted for trial on November 17, 2016.
Since his indictment, Mr Tomana has been waiting for trial for over 14 months, without a trial date.
At one time, his trial was set to start on February 13 last year, but no progress was made.
Adv Mpofu approached the High Court for a compelling order quashing the charges against his client on the basis of lapse of indictment.
He argued that Section 160(2) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) provides that if no trial takes place for a period of more than six months from the committal date, the charges must be dismissed on the basis of the lapse of the indictment.
In his application, Mr Tomana attacked Prosecutor-General Ray Goba’s conduct, which ensured that the matter would not proceed.
To strengthen his case, Mr Tomana referred the judge to a judgment by Justice Tawanda Chitapi last year that castigated Adv Goba for lack of professionalism in the manner he was handling the matter.