HARARE – Dendera musician Suluman Chimbetu will today stand trial for defaulting on child support after his attempt to have the case referred to the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) was declined yesterday.
Chimbetu — who is in $800 alimony arrears — had argued before Harare magistrate Annia Ndiraya that section 23 of the Marriages Act under which he is being charged infringed on his constitutional rights to a fair trial.
Ndiraya dismissed the application saying it did not hold water.
He emphasised that any person who failed to pay maintenance ought to be prosecuted.
“The accused person is a very responsible father and in the event that the case is referred to the Con-Court, he will still take care of his children. All he is saying is that he should not be charged under section 23; he is not saying that he will not pay but wants the matter referred to Con-Court,” his lawyer Cornwell Mutevhe had argued.
Chimbetu argued section 23 of the Marriages Act was vague and defective.
However, prosecutor Devoted Nyagano pushed for the trial to commence, arguing the children who benefit from the maintenance would be prejudiced.
“It would not be justified for the accused person to claim that his rights to a fair trial have been violated. Maintenance issues are sensitive and should be dealt with urgently because they involve the interests of children,” Nyagano said.
“The accused person will not suffer any prejudice if he pays the arrears. The State will proceed with trial unless there is an order from the Con-Court for these proceedings to be stalled.”
The complainant is Marygold Mutemasango, 27, of New Ridgeview, Belvedere in Harare
On December 19 last year at Harare Civil Court, Chimbetu was ordered to pay $800 every month towards the upkeep of his two children.
According to the order, Chimbetu was required to deposit the money into Mutemasango’s bank account with effect from December 31, 2016.
Chimbetu defaulted paying the maintenance fee last month (April) and has arrears amounting to $800.
This will be Chimbetu’s second appearance over defaulting payment of maintenance after he appeared before the same court in March this year over $1 600 arrears.
The case was later withdrawn after Chimbetu and Mutemasango had entered an out-of-court settlement.