2 February 2016

Zimbabwe: Tomana Appears in Court Under Heavy Security Facing Charges of Criminal Abuse of Office, Granted $1,000 Bail

Photo: Nehanda Radio
Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana

PROSECUTOR GENERAL (PG) Johannes Tomana Tuesday appeared in court answering to charges of criminal abuse of office, alternatively defeating the course of justice after he authorised the release of two suspects linked to an alleged attempt to bomb Gushungo dairies last month.

He was granted $1 000 bail.

Tomana released both Solomon Makumbe, attached to 1 Field Regiment, and Silas Pfupa. Court heard the two will be chief state witnesses to testify against the other two facing same charges.

The two were however rearrested and were brought to court again facing treason charges together with Zimbabwe People's Front political party president Owen Kuchata and Borman Ngwenya, who is a soldier attached to Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps.

He appeared before chief regional magistrate, Vakai Chikwekwe after he arrived at the courts under heavy security.

The all smiles Tomana seemed unmoved before he was taken into the dock with his subordinates Timothy Makoni and Gwinyai Shumba prosecuting.

The court was packed with lawyers and prosecutors who came to witness prosecution of their boss by their colleagues.

His attorney, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who was instructed by Alex Mambosasa, applied for the release of Tomana after the state opposed bail arguing that he was wrongly charged as Section 260 (i) of the Constitution gave him powers to make such decisions without being questioned.

"What he did was an act of prosecutorial function; in terms of the Constitution he enjoyed his independence," said Mpofu after he warned the state of possible outcomes of trying to prosecute the PG.

He added, "The Prosecutor-General must formulate and publicly disclose the general principles by which he or she decides whether and how to institute and conduct criminal proceedings.

Trading places ... PG Johannes Tomana arriving in court to face his juniors

"According to the section, subject to this Constitution, the PG is independent and is not subject to the direction or control of anyone and must exercise his or her functions impartially and without fear, favour, prejudice or bias."

However, the investigating officer Assistant commissioner Thulani Ncube persisted that Tomana must not be bailed.

Ncube said he was likely to cause problems in his office and influence his subordinates and evidence as he has powers over them.

"He is running the office and is the one who determines the direction which prosecution must face. He might interfere with investigations which are still at infancy stage," he said.

Since his arrest we have not had an opportunity to record statements from witnesses who works in his office, if released, he is likely to influence them in his favour. The accused is also facing a serious offence and will be incarcerated upon conviction so he is likely to abscond and flee to other countries since he has connections all over the world," added Ncube.

Ncube also told court that he believed that Tomana was influenced by someone to withdraw charges against the two suspects.

"The police want to investigate why he would jeopardise his work, future and family doing such a dirty work."

However, Mpofu said the state had no any evidence to support their submissions.

He said the state must not arrest to investigate but the other way round.

Mpofu also said it did not make sense that the police arrested Tomana before recording statements from other witnesses.

"When one considers his constitutional decision an arrest will be unlawful and a violation so there is zero evidence on part of the state."

Tomana was arrested with Michael Mugabe, a top state prosecutor who was however released soon after arrest.

The PG is understood to be an ally of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and was recently under fire after the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, called for his incarceration when he ruled that girls can get married at the age of 12

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