Private prosecutions in Zimbabwe: Victim participation in the criminal justice system versus prosecutorial independence
AbstractThere have been two recent developments that have changed the face of private prosecutions in Zimbabwe: (1) whether private companies may institute private prosecutions; and (2) whether the Attorney-General, in the event that he has declined to prosecute, is obliged to issue a certificate to a crime victim to institute a private prosecution. Both questions have been answered in the negative by the Prosecutor-General and the result is that crime victims have gone to court to seek clarity on these issues. The Supreme Court has held that private companies have a right to institute private prosecutions and that the Prosecutor-General is obliged to issue a certificate should he decline to prosecute. In response, the Prosecutor-General had adopted two strategies: (1) to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the Supreme Court’s ruling that he is obliged to issue such a certificate; and (2) to have the relevant sections of the CPEA amended so that the law is very clear that he is not obliged to issue such a certificate and that companies are not permitted to institute private prosecutions. In this article the author argues that even in the light of the latest amendments to the CPEA, there cases where the Prosecutor-General may be compelled to issue a certificate to a crime victim to institute a private prosecution.
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