Change of plea before verdict (Zimbabwe)

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Where X applies to withdraw a plea of guilty before verdict, the presumption of innocence still applies. X must give an explanation as to why he initially pleaded guilty and why he now wishes to change his plea. Once he gives an explanation, however, it will suffice; there is no onus on him to convince the court of the veracity of his explanation. If he fails altogether to give an explanation for the withdrawal of the original plea the court is entitled to hold him to his plea: Haruperi 1984 (1) ZLR 258 (H).

Even though X's explanation may be improbable the court is not entitled to refuse the application unless it is satisfied that explanation is not only improbable but false beyond reasonable doubt.

If the applications is one to which s 272 CPEA applies (procedure where there is doubt in relation to plea of guilty), the question of onus cannot arise: Nyathi & Anor 1988 (1) ZLR 221 (H).

If X alleges that his plea of guilty was the result of improper conduct by those in authority over him, the court must stop the proceedings and investigate this allegation.

See Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual