New twist to Natpharm boss’s drug hike saga, state unearths new evidence

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By Mary Taruvinga

NATIONAL Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) employees testifying against their boss, Newman Madzikwa withheld critical evidence when they gave their statements to police investigators.

Madzikwa is facing criminal abuse of office charges after he allegedly hiked drug handling fees by 11 percent and corruptly awarded a $10 million tender to a Danish medicines supplier.

Court heard minutes of the meeting during which he made the decision were recorded but witnesses did not tell the investigating officer.

The prosecutor handling the case told court that he stumbled upon the recording when an inspection in loco was conducted at NatPharm.

This prompted prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga to apply for a new witness, the minutes taker, Suzana Nonsikelelo Shara to come and testify.

Shara was not initially included on the list of witnesses.

“The evidence could not be availed at the commencement of trial and the witness was not known. The state stumbled on the recording during the inspection in loco and an IT personnel confirmed that the meeting was recorded,” he said.

The existence of the minutes was never made known to the State and ignored.

“The audio might lead the court to a just decision and may exonerate the accused person,” he said.

Macharaga said the new evidence could change Madzikwa’s fate.

Five State witnesses have already been called to testify in the case.

Madzikwa challenged the application through his lawyer Harrison Nkomo saying this would compromise his defence.
“The State has always been aware of the meeting from the onset. It’s not fair that the State is now beefing up its ailing case by calling an unscheduled witness.

“It is not the duty of the prosecutor to involve himself in investigations but to lead the court to the truth,” Nkomo said.

However, Senior Regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya dismissed the application, saying it is not the duty of the prosecution to call witnesses on behalf of the court.

However, Mujaya invoked Section 232 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act which empowers the magistrate to call additional witnesses.

“Call the witness on my behalf. I want to hear her side of the story,” Mujaya said.

The matter was rolled over to Wednesday for continuation of trial.