Gweru mayor’s bail ruling set for Tuesday

Gweru mayor’s bail ruling set for Tuesday – NewZimbabwe 14/03/2016

GWERU: Ruling in the bail application by arrested mayor, Hamutendi Kombayi, his deputy, Artwell Matyorauta, and suspended Town Clerk, Daniel Matawu, has been set for Tuesday.

Magistrate Pathekile Msipa said Monday that she needed time to go through the defence and state counsel’s submissions.

Kombayi and his colleagues are facing charges of criminal abuse of office arising from a government audit report carried by the Local Government ministry in July last year.

The defence team led by Reginald Chidawanyika on Monday submitted that there were no compelling reasons to deny the three bail, insisting the trio were law abiding citizens and would stick to any conditions attached to bail.

The prosecution, led by Helen Khosa, had opposed bail saying the three were a flight risk and would interfere with state witnesses.

But Chidawanyika said Kombayi had travelled to the United Kingdom on November 12 last year for a medical check-up and came back on January 29 this year well aware of the audit report.

He said he (Kombayi) went to Gweru central police station on February 8 after Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, indicated to the media that the Gweru mayor was on a police wanted list and was a fugitive.

“He (Kombayi) went on his volition to the police to ask if there was anyone looking for him and the possible reasons but no arrests were made,” Chidawanyika submitted.

Chidawanyika said the State had failed to prove that the allegations were of any serious nature hence there was no reason why bail should not be granted.

The investigating officer in the case, Inspector Johannes Chigoba, had also opposed bail saying investigations were still underway and that the three had properties they could dispose of and abscond.

Asked to elaborate, Chigoba said Kombayi had two hotels while Matawu and Matyorauta had houses.

Chidawanyika, however, questioned the logic of disposing hotels over a case involving $8,000 – allegations, he said his clients were ready to defend themselves against.

“Everything being equal, there is no reason why bail in these circumstances can be opposed,” submitted Chidawanyika.

Chigoba however, said Kombayi was facing two other pending cases, one of contempt of court and the other of violating a section of the Postal and Telecommunications Act.

He said the first case was from last year while the second involved Local Government permanent secretary, George Mlilo, who allegedly made a report last Saturday that Kombayi had sent offensive mobile text messages to him last year.

Chigoba however, failed to explain the pending cases saying he was not the investigating officer in the matters.

Defence attorney Chidawanyika downplayed the cases saying they were never brought to court and were therefore of no value to the present charges.

He queried Mlilo’s alleged report made on Saturday which he said raised eyebrows as it was the same day the three were brought to court for the first time.

“We wonder why he (Mlilo) did not make the report last year when the purported offensive text messages were sent to him,” said Chidawanyika.

“This is a clear attempt to frustrate first accused (Kombayi) not to assume office following a recent High Court order to reinstate him.”