May 29, 2024

New judge to be allocated in Mutsvangwa bail appeal

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Fidelis Munyoro
Another judge will now have to be allocated to preside over the High Court appeal by businessman Neville Mutsvangwa to overturn the refusal by a Harare magistrate to grant him bail, following Justice Esther Muremba’s decision to recuse herself from the case.
Justice Muremba recused herself on Monday, the day she was expected to deliver her ruling, citing personal reasons.
The appeal was then referred back to the Registrar of the High Court for re-allocation to another judge.
Mutsvangwa’s lawyer, Ms Josephine Sande, yesterday said she was now waiting to hear from the registrar of the court when the bail hearing would be.
“The matter is now with the registrar of the court for re-allocation to another judge,” she said. “We are now waiting for notice of hearing. However, we are not sure whether the new judge to the case will hear fresh submissions or proceed with the ruling. It is not clear yet.”
Mutsvangwa is facing three charges of illegal foreign currency dealings and one of possession of an unlicenced Starlink router.
He was denied bail by Harare magistrate Mr Dennis Mangosi, who remanded him and his two suspected runners in custody to tomorrow.
Unhappy with that decision, Mutsvangwa, through his lawyer appealed to the High Court for bail pending trial, arguing that the prosecution had no case against him and his co-suspects Elias Majachani and Simbarashe Tichingana.
Ms Sande argued that the remand magistrate misdirected himself in denying bail to Mutsvangwa and his co-accused, adding that the prosecution hinged its evidence on Visa cards, which were seized from Mutsvangwa’s Mount Pleasant home. She argued that possession of Visa cards is not a crime, neither was it evidence that someone is involved in illegal dealing with cash or money laundering.
Mr Mangosi also denied the trio bail on the grounds that they could be tempted to abscond. He ruled that police found overwhelming evidence that the company, Mumba Money Transfer, owned by Mutsvangwa, was an unregistered entity dealing in foreign currency.
His arrest also caused concern. Mutsvangwa first denied police entry to his Mt Pleasant house, and when police cut his electric fence and climbed over the gate, they had to search for him and eventually found him hiding between a precast wall and a pile of sacks containing waste.
Mr Mangosi, in his ruling against bail, said Mutsvangwa was a high-profile figure with connections and could sustain a livelihood outside the country hence was a flight risk.

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