River Valley chief executive officer Smelly Dube, who is facing charges of fraud and alternatively conspiracy to criminal abuse of duty by a public officer, breathed a sigh of relief after the High Court granted her $100 000 bail coupled with stiff conditions.
Dube had appealed to the High Court against the decision of the remand court denying her bail on the grounds that she was a flight risk.
Last week, Justice Tawanda Chitapi allowed Dube’s appeal finding no compelling reasons to deny her bail in view of the circumstances of the case.
The court granted Dube bail pending trial on condition that she deposits $100 000 with the Clerk of Court at Gweru Magistrates Court.
Dube was also ordered to reside at her house in Gweru until the matter is finalised. She is also required not set foot at her business premises for seven days unless the investigating officer has granted her clearance to do so.
Further, the court ordered Dube not to interfere with witnesses and investigations and has to report once a week at the nearest police station. It was the court’s view that the remand magistrate exercised their discretion to deny Dube bail on the grounds of abscondment based on a reasoning which could not reasonably be supported and even failed to consider strict imposition of tough conditions on the accused to secure her attendance to court.
Justice Chitapi said it was not intended by law that a person on bail should lead the life of a convicted person by being denied his or her livelihood.
“This is why the imposition of restrictive conditions is provided,” he said. The judge also noted that the magistrate made positive findings of fact which clearly showed the absence of likelihood that Dube was likely to evade trial if granted bail but went on to refuse bail.
Regarding the State’s fears of interference with witnesses and evidence, Justice Chitapi found that the reasons given for such a finding were speculative.
“The magistrate did not also relate to the impact of imposing conditions to allay fears of interference,” he said, adding, “In my view, bail ought not to have been denied in this case.”
Through her lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, Dube appealed for bail at the High Court after Gokwe regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manuweri denied her bail on the basis that she was a flight risk and could interfere with witnesses. She was detained at a private hospital where she was admitted for an illness since her arrest on March 3 by the Special Anti-Corruption Unit.
Charges against Dube arose when she allegedly connived with Matilda Manhambo, a former housing officer in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Jaison Machaya the former Governor and Resident Midlands Minister and Shepherd Marweyi, the former District Administrator, to be allocated 2 169 stands where beneficiaries were prejudiced of more than US$9,4 million. The Chronicle