Former Airzim bosses off the hook – for now


Innocent Mavhunga (left) and Grace Pfumbidzayi

Court Reporter
A Harare magistrate on Monday removed from remand two former Air Zimbabwe bosses, Innocent Mavhunga and Grace Pfumbidzayi, who were facing allegations of defrauding the parastatal of thousands of dollars in an insurance scam after the State failed to provide a trial date.They were accused of defrauding the airline of €5 175 593 and US$502 748 and their trial was supposed to have resumed on Monday.

The trial failed to take off after prosecutor Ms Valerie Ngoma told Harare magistrate Mr Hosiah Mujaya that investigations were still ongoing.

She failed to serve the defence counsel with State papers, prompting Mr Mujaya to refuse further remand.

Mr Mujaya advised Ms Ngoma to put her house in order and to proceed by way of summons when ready for trial.

Mavhunga is a former Air Zimbabwe acting group chief executive officer while Pfumbidzayi was the parastatal’s secretary.

The State alleges that between April 2009 and April 2013, Air Zimbabwe paid Navistar Insurance Brokers various amounts in aviation insurance premiums.

Navistar was allegedly enlisted to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender while the services of other existing companies were terminated.

The State alleges that Pfumbidzayi and former group CEO Peter Chikumba inflated aviation insurance premiums.

Inflated payments were allegedly made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited and Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited, both United Kingdom-based companies.

Air Zimbabwe allegedly released €15 452, 93 to Navistar, €10 607 859,22 to the two British companies, while they pocketed €5 895 695,49.

In May 2009, it is alleged the duo and their accomplices, Navistar Insurance bosses Givemore Nderere, Vukile Hlupo and Orten Mawire, misrepresented to Air Zimbabwe that there was an urgent need for the airline to pay US$142 300 to the European Commission to dodge sanctions.

They allegedly converted the money to their own use.

The court heard that Pfumbidzayi and Mavhunga originated fictitious debit notes amounting to US$1 659 276,58 in 2012.

The money was purportedly requested for the aviation insurance premiums for two leased A320 Airbuses.

The transaction was reportedly intercepted by auditors but the airline had already released US$360 448,68.

It is alleged the duo further claimed US$800 000 for aviation insurance but the board later discovered that the premiums were fully covered during the period.

Meanwhile, the trial of Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba, jointly charged with fraud and criminal abuse of duty as public officers, is underway.


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