By Mary Taruvinga
CORRUPTION accused Phelekezela Mphoko’s bid to seek the release of his passport by the courts fell through on Thursday when a Harare magistrate ruled that the ex-State Vice President did not satisfy his court that he had no intentions to skip trial.
The embattled ex-government official is facing criminal abuse of office charges arising from acts of criminality allegedly committed during his short tenure as co-deputy to late former President Robert Mugabe.
Through his lawyer, Zibusiso Ncube, Mphoko said he intended to travel to South Africa on business, adding that he had no reasons to abscond trial since he had a family still living in Zimbabwe.
“The accused seeks temporary release of passport for a period not more than five working days. He intends to travel to South Africa to meet his business associates,” said Ncube.
He added, “He is ready to stand trial at any given time. He has never defaulted but has strictly adhered to his bail conditions.”
In his ruling, Harare magistrate, Hosea Mujaya dismissed Mphoko’s application saying no satisfactory evidence was tendered before his court in support of the application.
The State, represented by George Manokore, had opposed the application.
Manokore said Mphoko had shown that he was a flight risk since he refused to give the State some surety.
“We had compromised as the State that he gives us surety in terms of title deeds to his property namely number 19 Douglasdale Road, Douglasdale in Bulawayo during the five days he intends to stay in South Africa.
“It is our belief that failure by the accused person to hand over title deeds points to the fact that he does want to attach self to risk that will arise if he hands over the title deeds,” said Manokore.
Mphoko landed in the dock after he allegedly interfered with the arrest of former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) officials, Davison Norupiri and Moses Juma back in 2016.
It is alleged that the two had been arrested by Zimbabwe anti-corruption Commission (Zacc) for criminal abuse of office.
The two were taken to Avondale Police Station on the following day pending their appearance in court but Mphoko allegedly abused his powers by ordering the duo’s immediate release.
It is alleged that Mphoko stormed the police station, ending the lawful police custody of the two as junior police officers took cover out of fear.
Mphoko allegedly drove away with the two suspects in his car.