By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
Supreme Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi yesterday granted an application by Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi who was seeking condonation, to file an out of time appeal against a recent High Court judgment clearing former cabinet minister Walter Mzembi and three others.
Mzembi, who was Tourism Minister and ex-permanent secretary Margaret Sangarwe are accused of grabbing four vehicles donated to the government ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference held in Zimbabwe eight years ago together with and two hired UNWTO consultants Sussana Makombe Kuhudzai and Dzingira Mushore.
PG’s application for forfeiture of the vehicles, three Ford Ranger T6 double cab vehicles and a Tata Xenon was dismissed by the High Court in March this year.
But the PG approached the Supreme Court with an application arguing that he was never advised of the judgment day, hence his office failed to appeal within the permissible time frame.
The application was granted.
The High Court had cleared Mzembi and his colleagues despite the fact that their criminal case was still pending at the Magistrates’ Court.
In his ruling, Justice Mathonsi cleared the two former government officials and the two consultants of any wrongdoing saying, “Their hands remain as white as snow”.
Speaking to the state media yesterday, Acting Deputy Prosecutor General Justin Uladi said that the case was not yet over as the PG was given the green light to file an appeal.
He added that the High Court had only been asked to rule on whether or not the vehicles should be forfeited, saying the criminal case was still to be determined by the magistrate’s court.
“The judgment which came out on March 12 was about forfeiture of motor vehicles and it had nothing to do with criminal charges they are facing.
“Further, we are appealing the decision and we have just been granted condonation to appeal out of time by Justice Mathonsi this afternoon.
“We could not appeal within the time frame provided by the rules as we had not been advised of the date for handing down the judgment,” said Uladi.
Last year, Mzembi scoffed at government attempts to extradite him from South Africa where he is currently exiled and told Nehanda Radio that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has attempted to have him assassinated several times.
Mzembi listed several innocent people who were killed in each of the alleged assassination attempts in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
This came after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) sought the assistance of South African authorities to bring Mzembi back to Zimbabwe to answer allegations of stealing vehicles worth US$130 000, donated for the UNWTO General Assembly.
The former minister is also accused of “abusing his office by donating four public viewing screens worth US$200 000 to Zion Christian Church, United Family International Church and Prophetic Healing Deliverance Ministries in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.”
In a third case Mzembi and two others Kuhudzai and Aaron Mushoriwa Dzingira were accused of “receiving donations amounting to US$815 000 for UNWTO from Mbada Diamonds on behalf of the Government and converted US$517 360 to their own use.” Nehanda Radio