Zimbabwe: I Paid U.S.$170 for My Freedom, Claims Suspect

7 January 2021

Suspected armed robber Douglas Mutenda, who was granted bail on December 8 last year, claimed he paid a US$170 bribe to prosecutor Douglas Chesa to consent to bail.

Mutenda made the allegations after his rearrest for failing to appear on court for a routine remand while on bail and Mr Chesa is under probe after police detectives recently filed a complaint against him.

Mutenda, appeared in court last Saturday following his arrest in Mhondoro on Christmas eve.

The Herald has it on good authority that detectives from Harare Central Police Station recently interviewed Mutenda while recording his statements and he claimed that he had paid Chesa US$170 as bribe.

It is also alleged that Mutenda paid a deposit of US$500 to a city lawyer to facilitate his release on bail pending appeal, but this would be a normal commercial transaction of hiring a lawyer.

Last month, the CID Homicide section -- following the release of Mutenda -- filed a complaint against Mr Chesa through the Police Anti-Corruption Unit (PACU), who are still handling the case.

Police sources said if investigations found the required degree of probability to bring charges then Mr Chesa could be arrested on charges of criminal abuse of office for consenting to bail for Mutenda.

Mutenda, who was released after being granted $5 000 bail on December 8, failed to appear in court on December 17 and a warrant for his arrest was issued. He is facing several counts of armed robbery and is supposed to stand trial on February 17.

On January 21, Mutenda is supposed to be tried at the Harare Magistrates' Courts on other armed robbery charges.

He will now stand trial along with 11 other suspected members of a robbery gang.

Mutenda defaulted attending court after he was freed on bail at the High Court on December 9 and had not been reporting at Glen Norah Police Station, a condition imposed by the court when he was granted bail.

During the default inquiry, the court heard that Mutenda had given the court a wrong address.

He was arrested in Mhondoro on Christmas Eve. Explaining his absence on December 9, he told the subsequent court hearing that he was attending to his ill child in Bocha, Marange, and that the child later died.

However, he could not prove that he had failed to obtain a letter from the village head or to produce a burial order confirming the child's death.

He told the court that he decided to visit his sister-in-law in Mhondoro during the holiday and had intended to attend court afterwards. Magistrate Mrs Judith Taruvinga noted that Mutenda was lying as it was not possible to bury a person without either a letter from the village head or burial order.

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