HARARE provincial magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe yesterday acquitted self-confessed prostitute, Melody Hamandawana, who was facing robbery charges, saying the State had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, considering the evidence adduced during the trial.
Hamandawana was accused of robbing Gokwe magistrate, Shepherd Mjanja of a Vodafone tablet phone, a wallet with $156 and car keys at a flat at the corner of Eighth Street and Central Avenue in the capital.
“The charge materially differs from what the complainant said in court and it did not say she acted in common purpose with other people when the robbery took place,” Chikwekwe said.
He also raised doubts at the quality of Mjanja’s evidence.
“Some doubt arises when the complainant said he hired a taxi to the police station, yet he had said that he was robbed of everything and did not tell the court how he paid for the taxi,” Chikwekwe said.
The trial magistrate further said it was troubling that there were substantial differences in the evidence of the two State witnesses on the identity of who robbed the victim and how much money was in the wallet.
Mjanja told the court it was $156, while the second witness, the arresting officer, said $150.
Chikwekwe said it was curious that the complainant did not raise alarm with the cab driver on his way from the flat to the bank or even to the bank’s security officers and chose to escape to a police station.
Hamandawana, in her defence, had argued that Mjanja made the police report to try to evade paying for the sexual services she had provided, which included oral sex.
She also said Mjanja was not robbed of his property, but had pawned it for sex until he withdrew money from his bank to pay for the services rendered.
Chikwekwe said: “There is real doubt on the versions of both the complainant and accused. Their cases are more of fiction and it is difficult to accept any version. Their stories could have been true, but the evidence adduced does not lead to a conviction.”