By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is facing several charges related to corruption, has finally been freed on $5 000 bail by a High Court Judge, Ammy Tsanga after spending solid two months in remand prison.
The ruling comes after four failed attempts to get freedom.
The ex-minister is accused of swindling the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) of US$95 million during her time as Public Service minister.
In her latest appeal, she complained through her lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, that it was unfair for the state to keep her behind bars indefinitely considering her age.
She offered to surrender title deeds to her home as well as her passports as surety.
The judge upheld her application, ruling that stringent conditions will allay the State’s fears that she will abscond if granted bail.
“Bail is now a constitutional right and should be granted to all accused persons unless where there are compelling reasons,” said the Judge.
“The accused is ordered to deposit $5 000 with the clerk of courts and not to interfere with witnesses in this matter,” said Tsanga.
As part of her bail conditions, Mupfumira was also ordered to report twice a week at Avondale Police Station, to surrender her two passports (ordinary and diplomatic) and also tittle deeds to her Mount Pleasant home.
She was arrested on July 25 this year and has been languishing in prison since then after Prosecutor General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi tendered a certificate barring any court from hearing the ex-minister’s bail application before 21 days lapsed.
The certificate was upheld by acting chief magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi forcing Mupfumira to seek audience with the High Court which denied her bail before the Supreme Court did the same.
She found herself back at the magistrate’s court where she was again denied bail on grounds that she is facing a serious offence.
On Wednesday Mupfumira argued that charges against her lacked merit.
She also argued that it was unfair to remain behind bars indefinitely considering that the State had alluded to that investigations were still underway.
The ex-top government official also convinced the court that she was not a flight risk.
“Zanu PF Youth League named and shamed the appellant before charges were levelled against her but she did not flee. The state fears she has a nine-year UK visa but the visa is in her passport which she is offering as security,” said Mpofu.
She is a grandmother aged 64 and for the state to keep her in custody for an indefinite period is unacceptable and an infringement of her constitutional rights.
Mpofu also submitted that allegations against Mupfumira arose after a forensic audit was conducted and because of that, the state should be ready for trial.
Mupfumira’s lawyer, who is being instructed by Charles Chinyama, also argued that the magistrates’ court erred in denying his client bail.
He said no evidence was placed before the court to strengthen state’s fear that his client was a flight risk.
The lawyer said Ngoni Masoka, the then Public Service ministry permanent secretary, was charged with similar offences but was released on bail.
He also said Masoka was equally responsible for some charges which Mupfumira is being accused of.
Mupfumira will be back in court on October 4 awaiting trial.