By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira has demanded that her trial should commence now after being in custody for 15 days.
Mupfumira who is facing several criminal charges was back in court for her initial routine remand looking calm and collected while dressed in her fancy clothes.
The Zanu PF Mashonaland West Senator faces seven counts of criminal abuse of office after she allegedly forced the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) into dodgy investments as well and deals leading to a prejudice of over US$94 million during the time she was Public Service Minister.
Prosecutors told High Judge Erica Ndewere recently that the State has completed investigating three counts out of the seven Mupfumira is facing and that it is ready for trial.
Her lawyer Charles Chinyama demanded to be given a trial date based on the State’s submissions.
“When we were applying for bail at the High Court last week, the prosecution indicated that out of seven counts the accused is facing, investigations are complete in respect of the three charges.
“Defence is ready for trial in respect of those three charges… I am placing the State on notice that if they do not furnish us with a trial date, I will be applying for refusal of further remand,” Chinyama said.
But prosecutor Michael Reza said the State is not going to be rushed.
“When all investigations are complete on all seven charges, we will proceed to trial.
“The accused has only been on remand for two weeks. Is the defence saying she has been in custody for an inordinate time? The State will not be proceeding to trial on the next remand date,” Reza said.
Mupfumira was remanded to August 23 and has been in prison since July 26.
She was remanded in custody after acting Chief Magistrate, Mishrod Guvamombe declined to entertain her bail.
This was after Prosecutor General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi issued a special certificate classifying her case as a complex one.
According to certificate, no court can entertain Mupfumira’s bail application for 21 days. The special certificate was issued in terms of section 32 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
However, Justice Ndewere insisted on entertaining Mupfumira’s bail saying her court has jurisdiction. The Judge reserved Mupfumira’s bail ruling indefinitely. Early this week President Emmerson Mnangagwa relieved her of her duties as a Cabinet Minister.