By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has demanded that his criminal abuse of office case be tried in Bulawayo setting the stage for a bruising battle with prosecutors.
Mphoko appeared before Harare Magistrate, Hosea Mujaya for his routine remand after his case was transferred to Harare from Bulawayo.
He is answering to a charge of criminal abuse of office he allegedly committed back in 2016 when he interfered with the arrest of Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) officials, Davison Norupiri and Moses Juma.
When he appeared before Mujaya, Mphoko through his lawyer, Zibusiso Ncube, raised concerns jurisdictional issues.
“We have the issues of territorial jurisdiction to have this matter tried in Bulawayo and not here in Harare,” said Ncube.
He added: “But most importantly, we don’t have the State papers to prepare for trial, the docket is with the Prosecutor General and he hasn’t made a decision on the territorial jurisdiction, the issue which we intend to agree on.
Mphoko’s lawyer said the former Vice President will launch an application to have the case returned to the country’s second largest city where he stays for trail.
“If we fail to reach a common ground, we will approach the court with a formal application,” said the lawyer.
Prosecutor George Manokore made an application for postponement saying the State needs to iron out the issue.
Mphoko is accused of storming Avondale Police Station and ordering the illegal release of the two Zinara top officials.
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.
The Officer-in-Charge stood his ground challenging the unlawful instruction before he later complied with Mphoko’s order under duress and released the two men.
Mphoko allegedly drove away with the two suspects in his car.
When Zacc officials went to Avondale Police Station on the following day intending to take Juma and Norupiri to court, they discovered that police had released them acting on Mphoko’s orders.