Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
The High Court yesterday extended bail for ex-Air Zimbabwe corporate secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi pending determination of her fresh appeal at the Supreme Court.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi granted Pfumbidzayi’s application following the State’s consent. Law officer Mr Editor Mavuto told the court that the State had no reason to oppose the application, considering that her co-accused, Peter Chikumba, had his bail extended by the same court.
“In the present matter, it is impossible to distinguish the applicant (Pfumbidzayi) from Chikumba who was admitted to bail,” he said. “Under the circumstances, the applicant’s bail may be extended in terms of the draft order.”
Pfumbidzayi 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.
In her application, Pfumbidzayi was asking the court to allow her to remain on $5 000 bail and the ruling means she will remain out of custody.
She lost her bid to quash the magistrates’ court decision at 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 recently, is being represented by Advocate Webster Chinamora, instructed by Muvirimi Law Chambers.
Through her lawyer, Pfumbidzayi argued 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,” argued Adv Chinamora.
“Accordingly, applicant prays that her application for extension of bail pending appeal be allowed and that this court orders that applicant to continue to abide by terms of and conditions of bail granted on September 2015.”
On the grounds of appeal, Adv Chinamora argued that the 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 in- valid.
“What they should have done following that conclusion was to strike the matter from the roll,” he argued.
“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 also argued that the judges were wrong in awarding costs to the State in a criminal appeal.
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.