Chombo trial deferred as court awaits his Supreme Court challenge

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By Mary Taruvinga

FORMER Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo’s trial on corruption charges was Friday pushed to May this year pending a Supreme Court’s determination on his application for stay of prosecution on rights grounds.

Chombo, a former influential Zanu PF politician, was the first cabinet minister to be arrested after the November 2017 military coup which toppled then President Robert Mugabe.

He has four different criminal cases pending before the courts.

“The prosecutor handling this case is seized with another case in Gweru. So we are seeking a postponement,” said prosecutor Tinashe Makiya.

Chombo is jointly charged with expelled Zanu PF officials Kudzai Chipanga, Munyaradzi Hamandishe and Mathew Muleya in another case of abusing Zanu PF regalia.

His co-accused were also remanded to May 10 in a case in which the quartet is facing criminal nuisance charges.

In another case, Chombo is being charged together with local government ministry officials who include Lazarus Chimba, Rejoice Pazvakavambwa and Psychology Chiwanga.

Chombo approached the upper court seeking stay of criminal prosecution, arguing that his rights were violated when he was illegally detained by soldiers in November last year.

His lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said “proceeding at this point would undermine the administration of justice.”

Chombo told court that he was “abducted” by suspected soldiers when the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) staged the 2017 coup.

He said his home was also attacked before the abduction in what the once powerful government official has described as a harrowing experience for his family.

Court heard that Chombo was forcibly taken from his home while it was raining and driven to an unknown place while blindfolded.

The ex-minister also narrated that he was placed in solitary confinement and made to sit on a chair for seven days.

Besides wearing Zanu PF regalia, he is being accused of contravening sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In this case, Chombo is charged with prejudicing Eddie Pfugari Properties of more than Z$200 million in a botched land deal.

He is also accused of defrauding the City of Harare of property worth $900,000 while businessman Chargan Vithal Rama lost $500,000 in a company share ownership transfer deal.