Sikhala urges prayers for cancer battling Mzembi; says ex-minister in critical condition

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By Mary Taruvinga

COLON cancer fighting ex-foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi is in a critical condition and cannot travel to back to Zimbabwe for trial on fraud charges, his lawyer said Monday.

Mzembi has repeatedly failed to turn up for trial in Harare with defence lawyer Job Sikhala saying his client is bed-ridden in South African where he is being treated for colon cancer.

Sikhala told a Harare court Monday that Mzembi’s condition had deteriorated.

“I flew to South Africa on Saturday and came back yesterday (Sunday). Based on what I saw, he is seriously indisposed to stand trial,” Sikhala told the court.

“Through my eye witness, he will not be able to stand trial in the near future. I urge the State to join us in prayer.

“We want to dispose of this matter, but his health is of utmost importance. He won’t be able to stand trial in the near future.”

Mzembi was diagnosed with colon cancer last year and has been hospitalised in South Africa since October.

He was briefly foreign affairs minister before President Robert Mugabe was toppled by a military revolt in November 2017.

Charges against Mzembi however, relate to his lengthy spell as the country’s tourism and hospitality minister.

He is accused of misappropriating funds meant for the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) General Assembly.

The event was jointly hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe in Victoria Falls.

Mzembi was due to appear in court this Monday for trial commencement.

He has since been served with several arrest warrants after he failed to turn up in court due to poor health.

Sikhala asked the court to be lenient, saying his client was not in wilful default.

“Circumstances are beyond the control of us all,” said the defence attorney.

Sikhala also tendered medical documents to prove Mzembi’s condition.

Prosecutor Brian Vito then said the State was considering separating Mzembi’s trial from that of his two co-accused.

Regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya deferred the case to February 4.