Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Tomana seeks stay of prosecution

By Tendai Kamhungira

Suspended prosecutor-general, Johannes Tomana, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges, has applied for stay of prosecution pending the hearing of his Constitutional Court (Con-Court) application to be tried by an external judge.

Suspended Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana was arrested today as he was leaving the Harare Magistrates Court where he was appearing on charges of criminal abuse of office as a public officer. At the same time, a group of anti-government protestors who were arrested on Wednesday were arraigned before the courts on allegations of public violence. The prosecutor general was arrested by officers from the Law and Order Section. Before his arrest, magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe had recused himself in a matter in which the suspended prosecutor general is being accused of criminally abusing his office when he released suspects, who allegedly plotted to bomb Gushungo Dairies, a multi-million dollar business venture owned by President Robert Mugabe’s family. Tomana’s attorney, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, confirmed the magistrate’s recusal and his client’s subsequent arrest. At the time of going to air, Mpofu was still attending to Tomana at the Harare Central Police Station and could not confirm the fresh charges the police have preferred against the suspended prosecutor general. Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was yet to be briefed on the latest development. Meanwhile, 24 anti-government protestors, who were arrested in Harare’s Marimba and Mufakose high density suburbs during the national job stay-away held on Wednesday, were arraigned before a Mbare magistrate facing charges of public violence. They were ordered to return to court for the determination of their bail application. At the same time, magistrate Chikwekwe granted bail to 104 protestors facing public violence charges who were arrested in Mabvuku and Epworth while demonstrating against increased police road-blocks. Among them are four minor children who were released into the custody of their parents. One of the defense lawyers, Obey Shava, confirmed this development. Shava said even though his clients were granted bail, they cannot raise a total of $10,000 that is required before they are released. In a related development, social media is awash with messages calling for a march to State House tomorrow. Police are still maintaining a heavy presence in the capital following Wednesday’s nationwide stay-away.

Tomana made the application yesterday through his lawyer, Thabani Mpofu, before High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi when his trial was due to start.

He wants his case to be heard by a retired judge or any judge not sitting in the higher court.

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The State is expected to respond to the application today.

According to court papers, Tomana is accused of illegally withdrawing charges of possession of weaponry for insurgency and money laundering for terrorism against Silas Pfupa and Solomon Makumbe — who were caught allegedly attempting to bomb President Robert Mugabe’s Alpha Omega Dairies.

A further charge emanates from the time when Bright Matonga was still Zupco’s chief executive.

The court heard that in 2004, Matonga was charged with culpable homicide arising from a traffic accident which resulted in the death of Chipo Chikowore.

When Tomana became the attorney-general, he reportedly devised a plan to illegally assist Matonga, after the former deputy Information minister was summoned for trial before the Chitungwiza Magistrates’ Courts.

He reportedly ordered his subordinates to drop the criminal charge against Matonga, without having sight of the docket and knowledge of circumstances surrounding the case.

According to court papers, Tomana directed his subordinates to decline prosecution, resulting in Matonga escaping the culpable homicide charges.

Tomana is also accused of protecting Matonga, after he was charged with contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act.

He reportedly ordered his subordinates to drop charges against Matonga in 2008 after plea, which resulted in the discontinuation of the trial.

“This was despite the fact that most of the witnesses were still to testify in the matter and they were readily available to attend court and testify,” the court papers read.

Charges against Matonga were eventually withdrawn after plea, resulting in him being found not guilty.

Tomana is accused of acting in a manner contrary and inconsistent to his duties as a public officer, by showing favour to Matonga.

He is further accused of protecting Charles Nherera, another former Zupco board member, who was also facing charges of contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Nherera was sentenced to three years in prison and Tomana testified in his trial.

He later applied for bail pending appeal, which was dismissed after the State opposed the application on the grounds that there were no prospects of success.

The Supreme Court also dismissed his application for review.

When Tomana became the attorney-general, he reportedly directed the State to change its stance and admit that Nherera was innocent and that the conviction had been passed erroneously.

According to State papers, Tomana also facilitated the release of Beauty Basile, an acting medical superintendent who was based at Bindura General Hospital in 2009.

Basile had been arraigned before the court accused of criminally abusing her duties and also faced 219 counts of corruption.

Tomana reportedly ordered his subordinates to withdraw charges against her, after she made several visits to his office.

On the last count, Tomana is accused of assisting the release of Patrick Mavros, an illegal gold dealer, who was found in possession of 9008, 1 grammes of the precious mineral.

He was accused of contravening the Gold Trade Act, by operating without a licence. Daily News