BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Former Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is facing allegations of corruption involving $95 million, was yesterday denied bail by a Harare court who said she was a flight risk.
Mupfumira, who appeared before deputy chief magistrate Elijah Makomo, was remanded in custody to September 28 pending trial.
In denying her bail, Makomo said the allegations were clear and upon conviction there will be a custodial sentence which would induce her from fleeing the jurisdiction of the court. Makomo said in some cases it was clear that Mupfumira used her influence to transfer large amounts of money from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) to MetBank for onward transmission to a company owned by her children and relatives.
“The accused faces seven counts of criminal abuse of office as a public officer involving US$95 556 000. There could be no argument on the seriousness of these offences. It only stands to reason that the more serious the offence, the stronger the State case, the more it induces the accused to flee,” Makomo said.
“In regard to the evidence, the money that was transferred to Metbank from Nssa was later transferred to a company owned by the accused’s relatives, CR14 that was produced in court as evidence showed that the directors are all Mupfumiras and it could, therefore, be a company which is controlled by the accused person.”
Makomo further ruled that Mupfumira had produced two passports of which one is a diplomatic passport and an ordinary passport which had a 10-year United Kingdom visa, hence the State’s fear that she might abscond trial once freed on bail.
Makomo said the reason for acquiring a length visa was not explained, hence the State’s fear.
The magistrate further heard that Mupfumira received a vehicle from Nssa and also received the same type of vehicle from government. Although she allegedly explained that it was a loan from Nssa she failed to produce documents showing agreements.
The magistrate also dismissed an application to have her removed from remand after Mupfumira claimed that she was illegally arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) officers. Makomo said the arrest of Mupfumira by Zacc officers was not an issue since the State had proved that there was a reasonable suspicion that she committed an offence.
Mupfumira has been in remand at Chikurubi Female Prison since July 27 after acting chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi upheld a certificate of detention issued by Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi.
Mupfumira has been coming to court wearing different designer outfits and would have her bags carried by different women in civilian clothes. The treatment she is receiving is different from other inmates on remand.
Former Local government minister Ignatius Chombo spent almost two months in remand prison clad in one black suit, while MDC activists on remand appear in court wearing prison gab.