By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Tourism Minister Priscah Mupfumira, has taken her fight for freedom to the Supreme Court.
Mupfumira has been languishing in remand prison for the last three weeks following her arrest on charges of criminal abuse of office after she allegedly swindled the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) of over US$95 million.
Through her lawyer, Charles Chinyama who is instructing Advocate Lewis Uriri, Mupfumira contends that High Court Judge Justice Erica Ndewere erred in denying her bail.
Ndewere ruled there are compelling reasons justifying the incarceration of the ex-Cabinet Minister. The High Court Judge however went one further and set aside a certificate that had been issued by the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi seeking Mupfumira’s detention for 21 days pending trial.
In her Supreme Court application, Mupfumira insisted that she is entitled to bail.
“The court a quo (High Court) wrongly accepted and relied on bald allegations made by the investigating officer which were not backed by any cogent evidence contrary to the principle long established in applications of this nature,” the lawyers said adding Justice Ndewere also erred and committed a gross irregularity by sanctioning “investigative detention that has since been outlawed in bail regime currently in force.”
“The court a quo further erred and misdirected itself when it departed from the mandatory provisions enshrined in section 70 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) 2013 which guarantees the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The court a quo further erred in holding that they were compelling reasons to justify the applicant’s continued stay in custody which could not be cured by conditions,” the lawyers argued.
Mupfumira, who is also Senator for Mashonaland West Province, was remanded in custody in July this year after Acting Chief Magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi, upheld Hodzi’s certificate.
Prosecutor Sharon Fero said there was overwhelming evidence against Mupfumira.
Fero further told the court that the State had also faced some difficulties in arresting the then Cabinet Minister since she kept on evading the police and that she has a personal CBZ bank account with numbers 04422647590013 in which monies from suspicious transactions were directly deposited into.
Another prosecutor Michael Reza said the State has finished investigating three charges out of the seven counts the former minister is facing.