By Mary Taruvinga/VOA
FORMER Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo will remain in remand prison after his bail ruling was postponed Wednesday to this Thursday.
He appeared before Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje.
Chombo is facing one fraud count plus five criminal abuse of office charges.
Chombo allegedly asked people to deposit varying sums of money for land purchases into his Chombo Housing Co-operative bank account, allocated himself over 125 stands in Harare and parceled out land through his companies – Comverol Enterprise, Cayford and Cavford in Carrick Creagh Farm in Harare without paying for the land.
He also allegedly sold state land and instructed government officials to sign a deed of settlement for Stoneridge Farm for Phillip Chiyangwa’s Pinnacle Holdings without Cabinet approval.
Charles Muchemwa and Ephraim Zinyandu appeared for the state while Chombo is being represented by Lovemore Madhuku, Tungamirai Muganhiri and Munyaradzi Bwanya.
The state opposed bail.
“The state is of the view that there are compelling reasons to deny the accused bail. It has been acknowledged that the accused is already on remand. It is important to note that the allegations he is facing today; relate to cases he is already on remand for,” said Muchemwa.
“Effects of the allegations are such that they induce some flight risk in the accused person. This is buttressed by the fact that he is also a man of means, and the charges are serious. Evidence of the state is very strong such that a conviction is highly probable.”
Muchemwa also said Chombo is well travelled, with connections outside the country.
The investigating officer (IO) Maxwell Gudo said there was likelihood of interference if Chombo was granted bail.
“We are still investigating and a lot of issues are still outstanding. We are yet to record some witness statements which is difficult because of Covid-19. He is a former Local Government Minister, a former senior government official who managed to establish various connections outside the country,” he said.
However, Muganhiri said his client’s conduct was not consistent with someone who wanted to abscond because Chombo handed himself over to the police adding state’s fears were based on assumptions.
Madhuku told the court, Chombo was reserving his rights to challenge his placement on remand on next appearance.
“On that ground he is not opposing his placement on remand. That ground is not a waiver for him to oppose the placement on remand at a later stage. The accused will be challenging his detention. He will be challenging it as unlawful but he will not be doing it today because he is only prioritising his right to liberty,” said Madhuku.
He said Chombo is already on remand in respect of other records and he urged the court to take judicial notice of those records which he wishes to use in future.