Thwarted by magistrate, ex-minister Undenge seeks High Court intervention

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By Court Reporter

FORMER cabinet minister Samuel Undenge has approached the High Court challenging a Harare magistrate’s ruling on his application for discharge.

He is charged on criminal abuse of office charges after he allegedly picked a company called Fruitful Communications to do public relations work for the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).

The PR firm was owned by Zanu PF legislator Psychology Maziwisa and media personality Oscar Pambuka who are also on trial for allegedly fleecing ZPC.

Undenge’s application was dismissed by magistrate Hosea Mujaya who ruled that he has a case to answer.

The former minister contends the state of has a personal hand in his prosecution.

“These inconsistencies (during the trial) show that the State witnesses were not telling the truth and had conspired to falsely incriminate me at the instigation of the State,” Undenge said.

“Further, none of the witnesses said categorically that what I had done was wrong, let alone constituted criminal conduct.

“This being the case, there was no basis upon which the magistrate could hold that the State had established a prima facie case.”

In his application for review before the High Court, Undenge claims magistrate Mujaya grossly erred in dismissing his application for acquittal.

“Having accepted that my (Undenge) defence was clear and that I did not know Oscar Pambuka and Psychology Maziwisa except for the business contact, that I was not related to them, that I did not expect to be paid, that I was not paid anything and that I did not direct the ZPC managing director of executive public relations’ office to hire it, the magistrate ought to have held that therefore I lacked the necessary intention to commit the crime in question,” he said.

“The court said I must be put to my defence to explain the letter. I humbly submit that this approach is incorrect. What the court did is tantamount to putting the onus on me to prove my innocence.”

Undenge further said putting him to his defence would go against “the grain of the uncontroverted evidence”, adding the magistrate had failed to take into account the numerous inconsistencies in the State’s case.

In his defence Undenge submitted he was misled by the owners of Fruitful Communications into writing a letter recommending the awarding of a tender to the company.

Undenge said he complied because the firm’s owners told him it was a directive from the president’s office.