By Bulawayo Correspondent
PLUMTREE Regional Magistrate, Timeon Tavengwa Makunde, arrested Friday on claims of bribery, was Saturday granted bail together with his co-accused by Deputy Chief Magistrate, Elijah Makomo.
Makunde (41) is jointly charged with prosecutor, Stanley Chinyanganya (38) and Harare based lawyer, Admire Rubaya.
The magistrate and the prosecutor are facing charges of criminal abuse of duty while Rubaya is up for obstructing the course of justice.
Makunde and Chinyanganya were each granted $300 bail while Rubaya was freed on $500 bail.
Their trial magistrate Makomo flew from Harare to hear the case in Bulawayo.
Makunde and Chinyanganya are being accused of receiving a bribe through Rubaya to acquit some Plumtree police officers who were arrested in the border town last week over theft of 14kg of gold at Plumtree police station.
The gold is worth nearly $1 million.
Rubaya was the lawyer for the gold theft suspects.
During their hearing, the state, represented by Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, had strongly opposed bail, arguing the accused were facing serious charges which could attract a sentence of up to five years if convicted.
“The accused are not facing charges that are not minor,” Ndlovu told court.
“The state has so far managed to secure a witness who will testify as to why the accused do not deserve bail.
“As indicated by the investigating officer, there is also fear of interference of witnesses, some of whom are known to the accused.”
One of the trio’s lawyers, Advocate Thabani Mpofu took to task both the state and the investigating officer Ernest Mpofu who had opposed bail on the pretext that investigations were still underway.
Mpofu told the court that one of the accused, Rubaya had driven all the way from Harare after being summoned by the police while the other two had voluntarily surrendered themselves to Plumtree police station after being advised of their charges.
“This charge is nonsensical. Why were the accused arrested ahead of investigations?” Mpofu said.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Makomo set down Makunde and Chinyanganya’s trial for 10 September while Rubaya’s case will be heard on 14 September.
The trio was also represented by Prince Butshe-Dube of Ncube Law Chambers.