Judge recuses self from Chikumba’s bail hearing

HARARE - High Court judge Garainesu Mawadze has recused himself from hearing a bail application filed by jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss Peter Chikumba, who is challenging his conviction and seven-year prison term.

Mawadze said he had handled the matter before when Chikumba and his co-accused Grace Pfumbidzayi appeared before him with an application for bail pending their trial.

“I have asked that this matter be placed before a different judge,” Mawadze said.

“I once dealt with this matter in the bail pending trial in which I made certain observations…,” he said, adding that his views in the matter still stand.

He said it was in the interests of justice for the matter to be placed before a different judge to get another legal reasoning.

Mawadze previously granted Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi bail, before their trial hearing.

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

Charges against the two 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 the services of other existing companies.

Chikumba, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya and Oliver Marwa, challenged Mtombeni’s ruling, arguing that she erred at law.

“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, adding that Chikumba was convicted on the basis of mere speculation and conjecture.

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