Nyore Madzianike Senior Reporter
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira is a flight risk who holds two passports and has properties in the United Kingdom, a High Court judge heard.
Mupfumira, who was arrested by the recently-constituted Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), will spend the weekend in remand prison after Justice Erica Ndewere yesterday deferred her bail application to Monday.
Justice Ndewere postponed the matter to allow the State to call the investigating officer to give evidence during the bail application. Mupfumira is facing criminal abuse of public office charges involving US$95 million.
She was detained last week after the State invoked Section 32 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which allows it to seek the further detention of a suspect up to 21 days to conduct further investigations.
The State led by Mrs Sharon Fero challenged Mupfumira’s bail application at the High Court yesterday, arguing that there was already a certificate which was tendered to the Prosecutor-General that bars any court from entertaining her before the stipulated 21 days lapsed.
“An aggrieved part can only approach this court when an inferior court had made a determination in relation to bail,” said Mrs Fero.
“I submit that the magistrate did not entertain the issue of bail. He was never asked to make a determination. He did not refuse to grant the applicant bail, so, for that reason the appeal ought to be struck off the roll.”
Mrs Fero accused Mupfumira of trying to take her bail application to the High Court through the back door.
“This court has no right to hear a case which is being brought via the back door,” she said.
Mupfumira, through her lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, who is acting on the instructions of Mr Charles Chinyama, said they had a right to be heard, arguing that they were rightly before the court.
Justice Ndewere ruled that the court had jurisdiction to hear Mupfumira’s bail application.
The State then opposed that Mupfumira be granted bail, arguing that investigations into the matter were still in progress.
Mrs Fero said Mupfumira had two passports and properties in the United Kingdom, leaving room for her to abscond trial. She said there was need for the investigating officer to testify to that effect.
Adv Uriri denied that Mupfumira had properties in the United Kingdom, saying being a holder of two passports did not mean that she will not stand trial.
He said Mupfumira had once travelled out of the country late in July and returned with full knowledge of the allegations she is facing.
Justice Ndewere deferred the matter to Monday for continuation of the bail application where the investigating officer is expected to testify before the court.