1 August 2009

Zimbabwe: Cellphone Minister to Stay in Custody

Harare — DEPUTY Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Thamsanqa Mahlangu and his personal assistant, accused of stealing a mobile phone, were yesterday granted US$50 bail each.

However, Mahlangu and Alvin Chadamoyo, who are accused of stealing a mobile phone from Cde Joseph Chinotimba, will remain in custody after the State invoked section 121 of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which provides for suspects to remain in prison for seven days, while the prosecution is considering to appeal against the trial court's decision.

The minister's other co-accomplices Geraldine Alvina Phiri and Patience Nyoni also accused of conniving with the pair would also remain in custody after the prosecution in a separate court invoked the same section. Phiri and Nyoni had been remanded out of custody by magistrate Mr Archie Wochiunga.

Mahlangu and his assistant, who were represented by Mr Charles Kwaramba of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni law firm, had their application for bail granted by magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Jarabini.

But immediately after the court's ruling, Mr Public Mpofu from the Attorney-General Office invoked section 121. He argued that it was not in the interest of justice to grant Mahlangu and his assistant bail hence the State had to appeal. Mr Jarabini then remanded Mahlangu in custody to August 7 this year.

In granting Mahlangu and his assistant bail, Mr Jarabini ruled that the duo were suitable candidates for bail. He also noted that the two did not have previous convictions and were unlikely to abscond if released on bail. "There are no reasons to demonstrate that the accused persons are not suitable candidates for bail. They are still innocent until proven guilty hence they should enjoy their liberty," he said.

Allegations against the four are that they were part of the people who attended the launch of the National Vision 2040 at Rainbow Towers Hotel on July 17. It is alleged that the complainant, Cde Chinotimba, was also present at the launch. Later, Cde Chinotimba went to the VIP lounge for lunch.

While in the VIP lounge, Cde Chinotimba left his Nokia phone a 2310 with a Net One line on the table as he went to collect food. The four were also in the same lounge with Cde Chinotimba, it is alleged

It is alleged that the four, upon realising that Cde Chinotimba had left his mobile phone, connived to steal the phone and disappeared with it. After a short while, it is alleged, Cde Chinotimba returned and discovered the mobile phone he had left on the table had gone.

He made a report to the police leading to the arrest of Phiri and Nyoni in Hwange who were in possession of the line.

The Nokia 2310 handset was allegedly recovered from Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere after Mahlangu had surrendered it to him on July 23, 2009 after he learnt of the arrest of the two women.

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