Court rules Mphoko should face music over ZINARA bosses’ release

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By Mary Taruvinga

EMBATTLED former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s bid to duck prosecution for bullying police officers into releasing friends from police custody has hit a brick wall after Harare magistrate Trynos Utahwashe dismissed his application for exception.

Mphoko, who faces criminal abuse of office charges, landed in the dock on allegations of abusing his powers after he ordered the release of two former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) bosses from police custody following their arrest on corruption.

Through his lawyers, Mphoko had excepted to his charge arguing that, “the charges were vague and embarrassing.”

Mphoko said the facts did not disclose an offence.

In dismissing Mphoko’s application, court ruled when he committed the crime, he was not an ordinary civilian.

The court also stated that the former VP had powers to act as an acting President by the time he committed the alleged crime.

Utawashe dismissed Mphoko’s argument that he had no power to give orders to police.

“He was not an ordinary civilian,” said Utawashe.

“He was known by all Zimbabweans and would act as the President when the President was not around.

“The officer-in-charge at the police station held a junior position to his, and that argument that he had no power to give orders cannot be allowed.”

It is the state’s case that sometime in 2016, when he was still VP, Mphoko stormed Harare’s Avondale Police Station where he ordered police officers to release two ZINARA officials, Davison Norupiri and Moses Juma who had been arrested for the criminal abuse of office.

He will be back in court on the 19th of next month for commencement of trial.