Chief Court Reporter
LAWYERS for remanded director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Portia Manangazira, have filed an application at the High Court seeking the release of their client on bail.
Manangazira was last week remanded in custody pending trial on charges of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
She is being accused of paying facilitation fees to undeserving ministry staff, flouting tender rules when she bought US$280 529 of goods and services and allegedly diverted diesel coupons for 3 290 litres to private vehicles.
Mr Harrison Nkomo of Mhishi, Nkomo Legal Practitioners, said they were appealing against the decision of the remand court, claiming several misdirections on the part of the lower court.
"We have appealed and we await set down in the High Court," he said.
In denying Manangazira bail, deputy chief magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande ruled that she was likely to interfere with investigations and witnesses, including her parents, who were part of the 28 family members she hired as community health workers to undertake the Covid-19 awareness programmes across the country.
Ms Makwande said Manangazira was still employed at the Ministry of Health and Child Care where there were some witnesses, hence the court feared that she was likely to jeopardise investigations.
The State also said Manangazira was a flight risk and remanded her in custody to March 8.
Africa Centre for Disease Control, through a non-governmental organisation -- African Field Epidemiology Network -- availed US$796 675 for purchase of services to be used during the training of 800 community health workers.
It is alleged that between July 16, 2020 and January 21 this year, Manangazira authorised the procurement of goods and services worth US$280 529 without going to tender.