- Last Updated on 27 March 2013
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THE four staffers from the Prime Minister's Office, arrested on 17 March 2013, were on Wednesday March 27, 2013, each granted US$ 500 bail by High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu in Harare, after 10 days in custody.
The four had appealed to the high court, after Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa of the Harare Magistrates Court denied them bail a week ago.(Thabani Mpofu)
Principal Legal Advisor in the PM's Office Thabani Mpofu, former Harare City Councillor Warship Dumba, Felix Matsinde and Mehluli Tshuma were arrested after police conducted a raid at No. 14 Bath Road on March 17 and were remanded in custody by lower court Magistrate Gofa.
The 4 are accused of compiling "dockets €, which they are believed to have intended to use in investigating suspected corrupt government ministers aligned to Zanu-PF.
Justice Bhunu in granting bail, stated that Magistrate Gofa had "misdirected herself € and that in her review of the bail application, she had not adhered to proper procedures required when examining an application for bail. Justice Bhunu, argued, in over turning the lower courts decision , that the presumption of innocence until guilt is established worked in the favour of the accused persons.
Justice Bhunu said in making his decision he had considered that the four were well-known individuals in society who could not "hide anywhere in the borders of this country € and also that if they attempted to skip the borders, they could be easily apprehended by the police. To justify his assertion, Justice Bhunu stated that the police had done so (apprehend suspects attempting to escape while on bail) with even perennial convicts such as Steven Chidumo and Edgar Masendeke, who were proven criminals.
In the case where the PM's Legal Advisor is being accused of failing to renew a firearm license, Justice Bhunu, shot down the Magistrate's assertion that the supposed omission by Mpofu could have led to the state failing to trace the firearm. The Judge suggested the state would know the whereabouts of the weapon because it was the state which had the prerogative of granting firearm licenses, including the expired one.
In addition to the USD500 bond, the other bail conditions laid down were that until the matter is finalised, the accused persons should report to police once a week, not interfere with police investigations, stay at their recorded places of residence and submit their passports.
The ruling was received with applause from a filled up Court Room C at the High Court.
Amongst those in attendance were senior members of the Prime Ministers Office, including Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Hon. Jameson Timba and Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary to the Council of Ministers, Mr. Ian Makone. In addition to those from the PMs Office, senior members of the Movement for Democratic Change (led by Morgan Tsvangirai), Co-Home Affairs Minister and Women's Assembly Chairperson, Hon. Theresa Makone and MDC-T Spokesperson and Nyanga North MP Hon. Douglas Mwonzora were also in attendance.