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‘Mupfumira not mentally fit for trial’

By Nyore Madzianike

Former cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira’s trial yesterday failed to kick off after her legal representative told the court that she was not mentally fit to stand trial and that a psychiatrist had recommended that she be given three months to recover.

Prisca Mupfumira
Zimbabwe’s then Environment and Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira arrives at the Harare Magistrates Courts on July 26, 2019, as she faces seven corruption charges linked to the disappearance of $94 million from the country’s pension fund when she was welfare minister. – Mupfumira was detained on July 25, 2019 by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and is the first sitting minister of the ruling Zanu-PF party to be arrested for graft under the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Mupfumira’s lawyer, Mr Charles Chinyama, told the court that she has been experiencing depression since her release from remand prison.

He said Mupfumira was also physically unfit to stand trial after she recently underwent a medical operation and requires time to heal.

The former minister is being charged with two counts of criminal abuse of office and another of concealing a crime from a principal.

The fired former Tourism Minister, is facing corruption charges involving US$95 million of National Social Security Authority (NSSA) funds, which arose during her stint as Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

She is being jointly charged with Ngoni Masoka, a former secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

“On the last postponement, I said she will go for a medical operation and will require time to recover. We have a letter from one doctor, who said she is still unwell to attend trial.

“Shortly after her release from custody on bail, she started experiencing some depressions that saw her visiting a psychiatric, who recommended that she cannot stand any trial or court proceedings must be postponed for a period of six weeks to three months pending her recovery,” said Mr Chinyama.

He also accused the State of failing to give them court papers on time to allow them to prepare their defence.

He said they only received court papers on Friday, leaving them with little time to prepare for yesterday’s trial.

Masoka, through his lawyer, told the court that they were also given court papers on Friday and were not ready for trial.

“We received court papers on Friday in the afternoon and they were not in order. One of the papers was materially different from what we initially had when we went to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

“There is a difference on the warned and cautioned statement that was recorded as it does not relate to what is now on the papers,” he said.

Mr Clemence Chimbare, who was representing the State, admitted that he gave Mupfumira and Masoka court papers on Friday.

He, however, said that there was enough time for them to have prepared their defences from the day they received the papers.

Mr Chimbare said the State wanted to verify the papers that Mupfumira produced in court.

Mupfumira, through her lawyer, made an undertaking to bring the psychiatrist, who examined her to court on Friday to testify on her condition.

Harare regional magistrate Mr Chrispen Mberewere set the matter for Friday to allow Mupfumira to call her psychiatrist to testify in court. The Herald

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