Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
The High Court has postponed to today the hearing of ex-Air Zimbabwe corporate secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi’s application for extension of bail pending her fresh appeal to the Supreme Court.
She is appealing against both conviction and the seven-year jail term imposed on her, following the recent decision by the High Court to dismiss her appeal.
The matter, which had been scheduled for yesterday, was rolled over to today to allow the State time to file its response. The State indicated that it was not ready. Law Officer Mr Editor Mavuto from the Prosecutor-General’s Office, undertook to file his papers by the end of day yesterday.
Pfumbidzayi lost her bid to quash the magistrates’ court decision in the High Court recently after Justice Edith Mushore sitting with Justice Charles Hungwe threw out the appeal.
Pfumbidzayi, who filed her appeal against the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court last Friday, has retained Advocate Webster Chinamora, instructed by Muvirimi Law Chambers to argue the matter.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi is expected to preside over the application. In her application, Pfumbidzayi is asking the court to allow her to remain on $5 000 bail.
Through her lawyer, Adv Chinamora, Pfumbidzayi is arguing that the appeal she lost in the higher court was never argued on merits, but erroneously dismissed.
“It is evident from the grounds of appeal contained in the notice of appeal that the appeal has prospects of success,” argues Adv Chinamora.
“Accordingly, applicant prays that her application for extension of bail pending appeal be allowed and that this Court order that applicant to continue to abide by terms of and conditions of bail granted on September 2015.”
On the grounds of appeal, Adv Chinamora argues that the learned judges misdirected themselves and erred at law by proceeding to dismiss the appeal on the merits, after they concluded that the notice of appeal was defective and invalid.
“What they should have done following that conclusion was to strike the matter from the roll,” he argues. “There was simply no basis for the learned judges (Mushore and Hungwe) to purport to deal with and dismiss an appeal which they had observed was not before them.
“This begs the question: If there was no appeal before the court, what was being dismissed on the merits?” Adv Chinamora will also argue that the judges were wrong in awarding costs to the State in a criminal appeal.
“As if that was not enough, the suggestion that the appeal from the magistrates’ court had to limit itself to points of law alone for it to constitute a valid appeal is startling to say the least,” he said. “On that score, the learned judges erred at law and strengthens the prospects of success on appeal.”
Adv Chinamora argues that an extension of bail had already been granted to former Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba, who was jointly charged, convicted and sentenced to the same term of imprisonment with Pfumbidzayi.
Chikumba had his bail extended until the determination of his appeal at the Supreme Court. He is on $2 000 bail. Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba were convicted and jailed seven years each for criminal abuse of duty.
In September 2015, the High Court made a finding that the duo could have been wrongly convicted because the charge of criminal abuse of duty was only applicable to public officers as defined in the country’s statutes, yet Air Zimbabwe was a private entity.