Jailed ex-Air Zim boss seeks bail

HARARE - Jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss Peter Chikumba has filed an application for bail.

Harare regional magistrate Fadzai Mtombeni initially jailed Chikumba and Grace Pfumbidzayi for 10 years each. She went on to suspend three years on condition of good behaviour after convicting the two on lesser charges of abusing their offices.

Charges against Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi arose after an anomaly was discovered pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to a company called 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.

However, Chikumba, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya challenged Mtombeni’s ruling, arguing that she erred at law. Chikumba is also challenging his conviction and seven-year prison term.

“With all due respect to the court a quo, there is no doubt that justice was miscarried in this matter resulting in the improper conviction of the applicant (Chikumba),” Rubaya said. “The applicant clearly committed no criminal offence at all and the charge he was called upon to answer was never established.”

He said the allegations against his client were entirely false.

Rubaya argued that there was no evidence that was produced in court to prove that his client had a meeting with Pfumbidzayi prior to the appointment of Navistar.

He said his client was convicted based on evidence proffered by Pfumbidzayi, who was only trying to save her skin.

He further said that the magistrates’ court did not have sufficient evidence warranting Chikumba’s conviction, adding that the decision was arrived at on the basis of mere speculation and conjecture.

“The court is urged to consider the prospects of success on appeal which are very bright to the extent that the continued deprivation of liberty to the applicant in the circumstances is very prejudicial and amounts to miscarriage of justice,” Rubaya argued.

“The applicant was wrongly convicted as the State failed to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt and the learned magistrate erred in convicting the applicant.”

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