Court name
Bulawayo High Court
Case number
HCA 140 of 2002

S v Munasti (HCA 140 of 2002) [2002] ZWBHC 135 (11 December 2002);

Law report citations
Media neutral citation
[2002] ZWBHC 135

                                                                                    Judgment No. HB 135/2002

                                                                                    Case No. HCA 140/2002

 

NABOTH MUNATSI

 

Versus

 

THE STATE

 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF ZIMBABWE

CHEDA J

BULAWAYO 21 OCTOBER & 12 DECEMBER 2002

 

P Harefor the applicant

H Ushewokunze IIIfor the respondent

 

Bail Application

 

            CHEDA J:     This is a bail application against applicant’s continuous

 

incarceration before trial.  Applicant is facing a charge of theft of a motor vehicle and

 

alternatively being found in possession of goods which give rise to a suspicion that

 

they were stolen.

 

The brief facts are that on 9 August 2002 at about 1400 hours appellant’s sister

 

was found in possession of a motor vehicle being a Nissan Sunny Sedan registration

 

number 550-078K, investigations by members of the police revealed that the

 

registration number in fact was similar to a Datsun Nissan Sedan.  The owner of the

 

Datsun Nissan Sedan was IMF Executive Holdings, Bulawayo and it was involved in

 

an accident which resulted in it being written off.  This, therefore, means that the

 

vehicle was no longer in existence.  Appellant‘s sister then revealed that the motor

 

vehicle in question belonged to applicant which led to his arrest.

 

            In his application for bail applicant argued that he is unlikely to abscond

 

because he:

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            HB 135/02

                                                            -2-

 

  1. has no travel documents.
  2. has no means to flee as he has no relatives and/or connections outside Zimbabwe.
  3. Is confident that he will be acquitted of these charges because he bought the shell, engine and other parts from car breakers which explains his possession of the motor vehicle.
  4. Is unlikely to interfere with any witness as he does not even know who the witnesses are.

 

On the other hand respondent through Mr Ushewokunze argued that if granted

 

bail appellant is likely to commit further offences.  The cardinal principle governing

 

these courts’ approach to bail is basically that the interest of justice must not be

 

prejudiced.  This court, therefore, in determining whether or not appellant should be

 

admitted to bail, should as a necessity balance appellant’s right to liberty against the

 

administration of justice.  In McCarthy v R 1906 TS 657 at 659 INNESCJ stated,

 

“the court is always desirous that an accused should be allowed bail if it is clear that the interests of justice will not be prejudiced thereby.”

 

            While appellant was on bail, it is alleged he committed a similar offence and it

 

is for this reason that, respondent is of the strong view that he should be deprived of

 

his liberty because of this propensity to commit further crimes.  REYNOLDSJ in A-G v

 

Eric Derrick PhiriHH-487-87 at p 6 remarked,

 

“It is my view that a person who commits a similar offence to the one with which he is charged while on bail shows not only a disregard for the rule of law, but contempt for the administration of justice as well.”

 

            I fully associate myself with these remarks by the learned judge as it is clear

 

that such a person is least bothered by the allegations against him.  In a normal

 

situation, the last thing to do, is for such a person to find himself improperly

 

associated with similar allegations.  It is clear that to such a person the old adage,

 

“once beaten twice shy” has no meaning in his vocabulary.

 

 

                                                                                                            HB 134/02

                                                            -3-

 

            It is, perhaps necessary to briefly deal with the basic principles of bail in

 

relation to an accused.  The presumption of innocence has been unanimously accepted

 

as a rule which operates in favour of the accused’s pre-trial liberty.

 

            J Van der Berg: Bail, A Practitioners Guide, Juta & Co 1986 at p 59 the

 

learned author lays down the paramount considerations which the court should take

 

into account in striking a balance between the interests of the accused and the interests

 

of the administration of justice as follows:

 

  1. whether the accused will stand trial
  2. whether the accused will interfere with state witnesses
  3. whether the accused will commit offences while on bail; and
  4. whether accused’s release will jeopardise law and order or state security. 

 

Our courts have previously refused bail where there is a likelihood that

 

accused will commit further offences while on bail, see S v Patel 1970 (3) SA 565

 

(W).

 

The likelihood to commit further crimes must be a real risk.  In order to

 

determine the absence or existence of such risk, in my view it is pertinent to take into

 

account all the surrounding circumstances of the allegations appellant is facing while

 

at the same time always bearing in mind the principle of the presumption of innocence

 

which favours the accused until adjudicated and convicted by a competent court.

 

            In the present application, applicant was on bail when it is alleged that he

 

committed the offence of which he is applying bail for.  He was on bail for a similar

 

offence, i.e. involving theft of a motor vehicle.  In as much as he is presumed to be

 

innocent I find that he is either deliberately involving himself in situations which

 

border on dishonesty or is carelessly sailing too close to the wind.  This type of

 

 

                                                                                                            HB 135/02     

                                                            -4-

 

behaviour, unfortunately leads one into the only irresistible conclusion, that he has

 

a propensity of committing further crimes and such behaviour certainly offends and

 

prejudices the interest of justice.

 

In light of the above, I find that appellant is certainly not the candidate for

 

admission to bail, his application is accordingly dismissed.

 

 

 

 

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