Change of plea after conviction (Zimbabwe)
What should a defence lawyer do if his client wishes to change his plea after conviction. The answer was provided in the case of Jackson HH-201-02 X, together with a colleague, stole a car in Chinhoyi. While driving it away, the accused lost control. His companion was killed; the vehicle was badly damaged. At his trial in a regional magistrates court, X pleaded guilty and was convicted. The matter was referred to the High Court for sentence. Before the hearing, X's legal representative indicated that the accused wished to change his plea to one of not guilty. The reason given was threats by the police. The question was whether the High Court could remit the matter to the lower court for the accused to change his plea. The court held the application to change the plea should be directed to the trial court. Although there is no onus on the accused - all he must do is offer a reasonable explanation for having pleaded guilty - less is required of him when he applies to the High Court for remittal to change his plea. All he must show is that he has an explanation which prima facie shows that he has a reasonable explanation for a change of plea to give to the trial court. Sections 227 and 271(2)(b) CPE apply in this regard.