Senior Court Reporter
IT was a hive of activity yesterday at the Anti-Corruption Court in Harare as bigwigs facing corruption and related charges jostled to sort out their next appearance dates following resumption of full operations of the court through Practice Direction 5 recently issued by the Chief Justice.
There was a lot of confusion surrounding court appearance dates of many accused persons who were relying on dates issued in the Practice Direction 4, which resultantly saw a number of people being issued with warrants of arrest.
Many picked the “error” created when the latest Practice Direction 5 was announced and they started attending court to verify their next court appearance dates.
Former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira, who fell victim of the “error” after being issued with a warrant of arrest for failing to appear in court and ex-Public Service Ministry Permanent Secretary Ngoni Masoka were yesterday among the high profile people who appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court.
Mupfumira and Masoka are jointly charged on two counts of criminal abuse of office and another count of concealing a transaction from a principal.
Their case involves US$90 000 they allegedly got from National Social Security Authority which they used to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser sports utility vehicle instead of a Mercedes Benz.
They also allegedly ordered the purchase of air tickets worth US$10 215 to attend a wedding in South Africa before paying R113 559 for accommodation without approval.
Mupfumira and Masoka are expected to appear in court on April 15 for trial.
Former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo was also at court and he was advised to return to court on April 15 for trial.
Moyo, who is being charged with criminal abuse of office for his alleged involvement in NatPharm’s unprocedural contract with Drax International LLC to supply medicines and surgical sundries, was supposed to be tried on January 11 this year.
Ex-University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura is expected to return to court on April 15 when his trial on allegations of awarding former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe a doctorate in 2014 is expected to kick-off.
Nyagura is charged with criminal abuse of office.
MDC-Alliance activists, Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova, Lovejoy Chitengu, Stanley Manyenga and Obey Tererai Sithole, who were arrested for participating in a demonstration in Warren Park, Harare in May last year are expected to appear in court for trial on April 26.
Their trial was supposed to kick-off on January 19 this year, but was stalled by the Covid-19 national lockdown.
They are charged with participating in a public gathering with intent to cause public violence.
Four NatPharm board members- chairman Billy Rigava, his deputy Rachel Chibaya and board members Johnson Shonhe and Harunavamwe Chifamba are expected in court on April 15.
They are charged with criminal abuse of office for allegedly failing to retire the then managing director, Florah Nancy Sifeku, when her tenure of office lapsed.
The court hearing of land developer Georgios Katsimberis on allegations of duping Pokugara Properties of close to US$1 million was also set for April 15.
Meanwhile, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Portia Manangazira, who is accused of misappropriating funds meant for training community health workers to raise awareness on Covid-19, was further remanded in custody to March 23.
Manangazira appeared before magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje.
She allegedly criminally abused aid funds by hiring 28 relatives as community health workers, paying facilitation fees to undeserving ministry staff, and flouting tender rules when she bought US$280 529 of goods and services.
She also allegedly illegally diverted diesel coupons for 3 290 litres to private vehicles.