Court calling further evidence (Zimbabwe)
Defence counsel should note that because the objective of a criminal trial is to ensure that justice is achieved and because the liberty of X is often at stake, a judicial officer has the right to call witnesses not called by either party. The judicial officer may also recall and re-examine any witness already examined. He may do these things if the evidence appears to be essential for arriving at a just decision in the case: s 232 CPEA.
The cases say, however, that his right must be sparingly exercised. In defended cases it must not be exercised so as to interfere with the discretion of counsel in their choice of evidence they wish to be placed before the court: Zakeyu 1963 SR 434 (FS); Buitendag 1976 (1) RLR 345 (A); and Wright S-183-89.
Section 232 can also be used when the State by oversight has failed to prove a purely formal element. In Maringire 1988 (2) ZLR 318 (S) it was stated that if the prosecutor at the trial fails to call the evidence necessary to prove a mere technicality or purely formal element, the magistrate himself should call the evidence acting in terms of s 232 CPEA. This provision should be sparingly used in respect of a missing element in the State case which is more than purely technical and which is of a contentious nature.