ONE of the key State witnesses in the trial of the suspected killers of Tapiwa Makore Jnr was yesterday declared hostile after she disowned the statement recorded by the police and the State is now allowed to cross-examine her and treat her differently than normally allowed for witnesses called by the State.
Ms Julia Kamunda testified in court that she lied so as to suit the police reading of the case after being threatened with unspecified action.
She was the second witness to testify in the ongoing trial of Tafadzwa Shamba, Tapiwa Makore Snr, Moud Hunidzarira and Thanks Makore.
When a witness changes their story, the party calling the witness has the option to apply to impeach this witness in terms of the law, and so have the witness declared hostile. This means that in the case the State can cross-examine her, rather than just leading evidence.
Ms Kamunda denied during her court testimony that the remains of Tapiwa were found dumped at the homestead one of the witnesses, Mr Summer Murwira.
According to her statement to the police Ms Kamunda said her son, also listed as a State witness, had told her that he had been sent by Shamba to collect the body from the garden, which he did and handed that body over to Shamba.
It was also in her statement that she warned her son not to tell anyone about the disappearance of Tapiwa, as the matter was under police investigations.
It was on the basis of the witness denying these statements recorded from her that prompted the lead prosecutor, Mr Albert Masamha, to apply for Ms Kamunda’s impeachment.
Presiding judge Justice Munamato Mutevedzi allowed the application and declared the witness hostile and impeached her.
“The prosecution has made sufficient basis for impeachment. Her statement is at variance with what she told the court and the police.
“The witness, has been declared as a hostile witness and state is at liberty to cross examine its witness.”
The purpose of impeachment is not to persuade the judicial officer to accept the evidence he or she gave in the original statement, but to destroy their reliability as a witness for either side.
The trial of the four accused began on Monday with all the suspects denying the charge.
Shamba, the chief suspect who was the gardener of the boy’s father, was linked to the offence by his blood-soaked pair of trousers.
In his defence he claimed to have admitted to the murder under duress after being assaulted by the investigating officers.
He denied the link to the offence claiming that the blood spots that were found on his pair of trouser were from a chicken he had slaughtered at Makore Snr’s homestead.
He also claimed that the blood stains found on his vest were menstrual blood left by his friend’s girlfriend.
The other three also denied the offence saying they were assaulted by the police to give statements that were allegedly rehearsed by the police.
Tapiwa was allegedly murdered by his uncle in September 2020 in Nyamutumbu village, Murehwa. According to one alleged confession, the boy was drugged, killed and mutilated so that they could sell his body parts to a witch doctor for US$1 500.
The family faced continued grief after enduring over six months without laying his body to rest. The boy’s head could not be located until the time of his burial. The trial continues today with three more witnesses expected to testify.
Mr Moses Mavhaire and Mutsa Chivandire from Chivandire, Mavhaire and Zinto Law Chambers are representing Shamba.
Tapiwa Makore Snr is being represented by Mr Munyaradzi Midzi of Titan Law Chambers while Hunidzarira is being represented by Mr Maxwell Mavhunga of Mavhunga and Associates.