Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
It never rains, but pours for former Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira who had her fourth freedom bid thrown out yesterday by a Harare magistrate who ruled that she was a flight risk.
Mupfumira is facing seven counts of criminal abuse of office involving US$95 million.
Mr Elijah Makomo added that though some of the counts faced by Mupfumira involved intricate investigations which are yet to be completed, the other three counts showed there was a strong case.
The magistrate also raised the issue of the gravity of the offence as an inducement for absconding trial.
“The State mentioned the existence of two passports in the name of the accused. One an ordinary passport and the other a diplomatic one. In that ordinary passport is a multiple-entry visa to the United Kingdom. It is a 10-year visa expiring in May 2028. At each visit, she is entitled to remain in the United Kingdom for 180 days (6 months). Clearly, this visa virtually gives her residence in the United Kingdom for the next nine years,” he said.
“The 10-year visa, was obviously acquired not for Government business travel, but personal business.
“What this clearly brings to the fore, however, is that she has strong connections with that country. Certainly, the United Kingdom would not grant such a visa at the mere asking, especially to a woman of straw as she is portrayed by her counsel. This must be taken in light of the deposition of the investigating officer that she owns houses in that country.
“In my view, this is a very strong factor militating against the accused’s bid for her freedom.”
Mr Makomo said Mupfumira, through her lawyer, tendered two CBZ bank statements in a bid to demonstrate that she does not have the kind of money mentioned in State papers.
Mupfumira, through her lawyer, Mr Charles Chinyama, made a fresh bail application last Friday following the expiry of her 21-day detention period. She also made another application challenging her arrest and detention on the basis that police officers who arrested her were seconded to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and, therefore, did not have arresting powers.
Mupfumira was further remanded in custody to September 29.
Mr Michael Reza prosecuted.