Mandiwanzira bailed $2 000, protests ‘filthy’ Matapi police detention cells

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By Court Reporter

Supa Mandiwanzira (right) arrives at Harare courts Wednesday with his lawyers

EMBATTLED former Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, was Wednesday freed on $2 000 bail but placed a complaint over police’s decision to detain him at “filthy” Matapi police cells.

Mandiwanzira stands accused of abusing his authority as ICT minister by ordering government telecomms firm NetOne to pay $5 million to Megawatt for consultancy work without going to tender.

The Zanu PF MP for Nyanga South was arrested Tuesday morning after he handed himself over to the police upon his return from a business trip in China.

Through his lawyers, Mandiwanzira complained that police deliberately sent him to the cells, yet his case could have been heard on the same day.

“Matapi was just a bit uncomfortable,” said his lawyer Selby Hwacha.

“This matter was supposed to come yesterday (Tuesday) and there is no reason he was detained overnight.”

Hwacha placed the complaint after senior magistrate, Mishrod Guvamombe asked if his client had any complaints against the police as per procedure when one is first presented before court.

The defence team had raised their concerns the day Mandiwanzira was arrested saying there was no “factual, logical or legal basis” for the detention.

Mandiwanzira visited the police after he was made aware of their interest to question him over the alleged offences.

Matapi police holding cells in Harare’s crime ridden Mbare suburb have the not so savoury reputation of being dirty and often harsher to suspects from affluent backgrounds. The now defunct Robert Mugabe led regime quite often preferred the cells to detain opposition activists and rights defenders.

In 2005, there was also a Supreme Court ruling that found the holding cells as “inhuman and degrading” and this was followed by an order for police to upgrade the facility.

Meanwhile, Mandiwanzira was ordered to surrender surety of a property worth $100 000 and his passport as part of his bail conditions.

Guvamombe also ordered him to continue residing at his given address, to report twice a week at the police and not to interfere with state witnesses.

Witnesses lined up to testify against him include, former NetOne CEOs, Reward Kangai and Brian Mutandiro.

Mandiwanzira is facing two criminal abuse of office charges.

Despite ordering NetOne to pay $5 million to Megawatt, a company he has interests in, Mandiwanzira also allegedly seconded one, Tawanda Chinembiri to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority board.

Prosecutors allege Chinembiri was his personal assistant and that his actions allegedly led to the loss of $35 000 by POTRAZ through allowances he drew.

The former minister will be back in court on November 30 for routine remand.

His trial will commence on December 10.

Michael Chakandida appeared for the state.