Zimbabwe: Ex-VP Mphoko's Trial in False Start

13 November 2019

The trial of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko on criminal abuse of office charges hit a brick wall yesterday after his lawyer Mr Zibusiso Ncube applied for exception without notice.

It is the State's case that Mphoko allegedly instructed junior officers at Avondale Police Station in Harare to release former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive Moses Juma and former board member Davison Norupiri, who was Zinara's finance committee chairperson from the cells.

The matter, which was scheduled to commence at 9am started around 11am, with Mr Ncube telling the court that he had a tyre puncture.

Acting Prosecutor-General Nelson Mutsonziwa told the court that Mr Ncube's application without notice was an ambush to the State, which is unlawful.

Harare regional magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya criticised Mr Ncube for not giving the State notice.

Mr Mujaya deferred the matter to today for continuation.

According to the State papers, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) received a case in which Juma and Norupiri were being accused of fraud and criminal abuse of office on May 6, 2016.

Investigations resulted in the arrest of the two for criminal abuse of office.

Warned and cautioned statements were recorded on July 12, 2016.

The two were detained at Avondale Police Station pending court appearance on July 14, 2016.

"On the same date at around 6pm, Mphoko, who was then Acting President of Zimbabwe, went to Avondale Police Station where on arrival, he abused his duty by ordering the immediate release of the two accused persons from police custody," read part of the request for remand form.

"The officer-in-charge stood his ground, challenging the unlawful instruction, but eventually succumbed to pressure from the accused and released the two accused persons from police cells. The accused then drove away in his vehicle."

This was done without ZACC's knowledge.

On July 14, ZACC officers went to Avondale Police Station to pick up the accused persons for court appearance, but discovered that Mphoko had ordered the pair's unlawful release.

"Section 106 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly spells out the conduct of Vice Presidents, ministers and deputy ministers and subsection (1) states that every VP must act in accordance with this Constitution," reads the State papers.

"Subsection 2 (b) (c) of Section 106 also states that Vice Presidents shall not act in any way that is inconsistent with their office or use their position to improperly benefit any other person."

The State contends that Mphoko acted inconsistent with his duties in releasing the duo and that he also showed favour to them.

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