Judge reserves ruling in Mupfumira bail bid, court told Minister a fugitive

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By Mary Taruvinga

AN Investigating Officer (IO) in the case in which Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira is accused of abuse of duty has said the minister tried to flee to South Africa when she became aware that police were hunting for her.

Trust Chinembiri revealed this while giving his testimony against granting of bail to the incarcerated minister whom he described as a flight risk.

Among other things, Chinembiri said Mupfumira was difficult to arrest and also intimidated witnesses by threatening to fire them if they ever cooperated with the police.

“She (Mupfumira) only handed herself over to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) upon realising that there was nowhere to run to. She then sent her lawyers to Zacc saying she would avail herself the following day.

“She wanted to leave on July 25. She was not prepared to face arrest as she even planned to travel to South Africa with some Chinese (nationals),” said Chinembiri.

Mupfumira was arrested on July 26.

Chinembiri opposed bail also on grounds that the under-fire Minister was likely to interfere with witnesses because she had already done the same before.

“She threatened witnesses. When we interviewed them they would indicate that they are scared of losing their jobs. We had to interview them secretly in order to protect them,” said the IO.

The State, led by Michael Reza, had submitted that evidence against Mupfumira was overwhelming.

Reza also submitted that it was difficult to arrest Mupfumira since she kept on evading the police.

“She was ducking and diving. The police travelled all the way from Chinhoyi looking for her. The police were sent on a wild goose chase, visited her office, looked for her at the parliament and her residence but she never showed up. Police had to set up camp at her residence, only then she sent her lawyers to Zacc ,” said Reza.

Mupfumira’s lawyer, Advocate Lewis Uriri insisted that his client was not a fugitive.

He argued that the State had no evidence against Mupfumira and was relying on hearsay evidence.

Mupfumira is facing criminal abuse of office charges after she allegedly siphoned US$95 from Nssa when he was Public Service minister.

But she denies the allegations arguing that the case is a civil one between Nssa and Metbank.

High Court Judge, Erica Ndewere heard Mupfumira’s bail application.

She reserved the judgement on the matter indefinitely.