A CHINESE businessman who landed in the dock on allegations of trying to bribe a police officer with US$1 480, has been granted bail by the High Court after languishing in jail for a month.
Meng Dong (31) was released by Justice Jesta Charehwa together with his co-accused, Leegwan Mavhunga (36).
The third co-accused, Velaphi Maphosa (38) is already out on bail.
The two successfully argued their co-accused was granted bail by magistrate Dennis Mangosi and, as such, they were also suitable candidates.
They also argued that they were innocent until proven guilty.
Charehwa upheld their arguments stating that the magistrate erred in denying the two bail.
"In casu, the court a quo did misdirect itself as conceded by respondent without holding an inquiry as to whether or not the appellants would interfere with investigations or witnesses, it nevertheless reached that conclusion on the basis that the appellant's conduct speaks volumes.
"There can be no worse irregularity than that. Further, as also conceded by the respondent, the court a quo denied the appellants bail on the grounds that they are likely to commit further first schedule offences when there is no evidence in that respect.
"In fact, the pending cases against the appellants are irrelevant to the matter for which they seek bail.
"To make matters worse, the court a quo refused to grant bail on the basis that appellants have a case to answer as there was exchange of money. This was a clear misdirection. As to whether or not an accused person has a case to answer is not a basis for denying or granting bail," said the judge.
She added, "While it is true that the alleged offence and conduct of applicants were committed while they were already on bail for other offences and amounts to an attempt to interfere with witnesses, nothing suggests that if released on bail they are likely to interfere given that the state witnesses are already on alert to guard against any further such transgressions of the ruling is instructive."
Allegations are that on May 12 this year, Mavhunga, who was using an Econet number, called Assistant Inspector Bota, the investigating officer in a case of fraud reported against Dong.
Dong was out on bail in that case.
It is alleged Mavhunga indicated that he had been sent by Dong to talk to him concerning the case he was investigating.
He reportedly requested to see Bota in person and was advised to go and see him at his workplace which he did the following day.
The court heard Mavhunga told the police officer that he had been sent to offer him some bribe money so that he could destroy all the incriminating evidence and ensure that he is removed from remand.
Bota did not believe that Mavhunga had been sent by Dong, so he asked to speak to him (Dong) on the phone.
The police officer immediately informed his Officer in Charge.
A decision to set up a trap was made and Bota played along as if he was interested in receiving the US$1 500.
On May 14, Mavhunga contacted Bota and requested that they met and hand over the money in Mbare and when the trio arrived, Maphosa was driving the car they were in, and were arrested as they were handing over the money, US$1 480.