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Vice President Mphoko defies the rule of law: releases accused from custody

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Harare magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe on Thursday expressed his anger after Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) bosses failed to turn up in court with reports saying Vice President Phelekezela ordered their release.

The pair, Moses Juma and Davison Norupiri, were arrested Wednesday over criminal abuse of office which saw the parastatal losing over $1 million. The two did not show up in court despite the fact that their records had been opened at 9: 30 am.

Chikwekwe complained saying it was becoming a habit of prosecutors to open records before an accused appears in court in order to beat the 48 hour detention period. He told journalists that this was unprofessional.

“The two records were opened at 0930 hours with the clerk of court. This is now close of business at 15:50 hours and they are not here,” said Chikwekwe.

“The State and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correction Services cannot account for the accused and it is clear the record was opened at State’s instruction after giving their reference number.

“This system is gradually growing into a habit whereby records are opened without securing the presence of the accused at court.”

Chikwekwe considered the two records as not taken.

Despite state’s allegations that the chief executive officer and non-executive director were still at National Prosecuting Authority, reports indicated that Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko had ordered the release of the two suspects at Avondale police station. According to the opened records, the two are being charged with Criminal abuse of duty as public officers or alternatively fraud.

Prosecutors allege that Norupiri showed favour by handpicking three Tax consultancy companies including Mixfort consultancy, Excel Tax and Central Source Management Consultants PVT Ltd trading under Tax Management systems (TMS) to present their proposals for purported consultancy. According to the State, this was to reduce a tax obligation which had accrued to the tune of $43 million at ZINARA before a committee which he chaired.

Juma, the acting CEO, is accused of having authorised and approved various payments for purported tax management consultancy and tax health checks services done on behalf of ZINARA knowing there was no a binding contract between the parties. State also alleges that TMS had not provided any services to ZINARA.

The state alleged that because of their actions, ZINARA suffered a total prejudice of $1 274 575 which was unlawfully paid to TMS without any binding contract.

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