Jailed ex-Air Zim boss optimistic

HARARE - Jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss, Peter Chikumba, has high prospects of succeeding in his bail application pending appeal, his lawyer Admire Rubaya has said.

Rubaya claimed his client’s accomplice Grace Pfumbidzayi was a dangerous witness who implicated Chikumba in the Air Zimbabwe fraud in a bid to save her skin.

Both Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi are each serving an effective seven-year prison term after being convicted on abuse of office charges.

The bail hearing is before High Court Judge Owen Tagu.

Tagu took over the matter after another High Court judge Garainesu Mawadze recused himself from handling the case on Monday.

“It is clear that the honourable court a quo made a grave mistake to believe an accomplice,” Rubaya said. “It (the court) was dealing with a dangerous witness whose evidence was not corroborated in any manner.”

He said the implication of his client by Pfumbidzayi should not have been considered.

Rubaya, who was with Oliver Marwa, also said that his client was not involved in the transactions forming the basis of the State’s case.

“There is no direct evidence which resulted in the applicant being convicted,” Rubaya said, adding that the appeal against conviction and sentence was not doomed to fail.

He said that the trial magistrate over-sensationalised the case, which resulted in the imposition of a heavy penalty, adding that his client did not benefit from the offence as opposed to his accomplice Pfumbidzayi, who he said built a mansion.

However, prosecutor Innocent Muchini opposed the application and supported the magistrate’s ruling.

“I will persist that the conviction was very proper, unassailable and not likely going to be interfered with on appeal,” Muchini said.

He said that the offence was serious and that a custodial sentence was unavoidable.

Tagu reserved ruling in the application. He said his reasons would be ready by next week Wednesday.

Charges against Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi arose after an anomaly was discovered pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited (Navistar) in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

The State accused the duo of enlisting the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender after terminating services of other existing companies.

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