Zvikomborero Parafini, Court Reporter
Former model and Zim Fashion Week founder Priscilla Chigariro was on Thursday acquitted of the charges of illegal possession of dangerous drugs.
Chigariro, who was being co-charged together with her sister Ndaka, was acquitted after a full trial by Harare regional magistrate Loice Mukunyadzi.
Magistrate Mukunyadzi ruled that the state failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the two were dealing in cocaine as alleged.
“The person who tipped off the police did it out of malice because when the investigating officer testified, he said he expected to find large amounts of cocaine in the house and even went with reinforcements only to recover 0,6kgs of cocaine in the wardrobe full of clothes.
“The manner that the report was made shows that whoever tipped the police had scores to settle.
“In their defence, the two said they said they were shocked and weren’t aware of its existence. There was no knowledge of possession and in such cases, the State then has to prove knowledge of possession.
“The accused persons said they were not even aware that it was in their wardrobe.
“The possibility that it could have been planted cannot be ruled out more so, the state didn’t lead evidence to rule out the possibility of it being planted.
“It’s a 50-50 situation and the state should prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the doubt that’s there should benefit the accused persons and having assessed the evidence placed before this court.
“There’s no convincing evidence to link the two to the charge of dealing in cocaine which was found in their wardrobes, they benefit from the doubt that exists and they are found not guilty and discharged,” she said.
In her defence, Chigariro denied ever dealing in, abusing let alone the possession of drugs as alleged and it came as an absolute shock to them when the CID Drugs officers came to their residence armed with a search warrant whereupon they found a sachet of cocaine amongst Chigariro’s clothes.
The Chigariro sisters in their defence also claimed that they suspect that this drug could have been planted in their bedroom by a maid at the behest of Chigariro’s estranged husband Allen Aleskey Gessen with whom they have had a plethora of litigation in both magistrates civil and criminal courts, some of which are still pending.
Chigariro also claims that in October last year, her estranged husband had orchestrated a plan to frame her for possession of drugs while she was in Russia and the ploy failed because she was tipped by a former driver and stated that at the material time she had two maids and one of them Pamela Misesa disappeared from work immediately after the search before being paid.
They also stated that the premise has a total of ten buildings and when the police came to search one of the buildings were being renovated so many people were in and out.
They added that they were sharing the model’s bedroom as a security measure because they had been attacked by some bouncers hired by her estranged husband and reports were made and some suspects have been arrested.
Ephraim Zinyandu appeared for the State.