HARARE – Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko will stand trial on December 3 after a magistrate on Wednesday rejected his application to have his corruption charges thrown out.
The 79-year-old is facing allegations of unlawfully instructing police to release two former managers of the roads agency ZINARA who were being held on corruption charges in 2016.
Mphoko sought the quashing of his charges saying prosecution allegations were vague and only aimed to embarrass him.
His trial was supposed to start before Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya but failed to kick-off after his lawyer Tawanda Zhuwarara excepted to the charges.
bosses, Moses Juma and Davison Norupiri from police custody awaiting court appearance.
“The charges are materially defective and are calculated to prejudice and embarrass the accused . State papers do not particularise what provision of the Constitution accused is alleged to have acted contrary to or inconsistent with,” said Zhuwarara.
“The charges do not particularise when the accused is alleged to have ordered the release of Moses Juma and Davison Norupiri. The charges force the accused to reveal information produced from publication or conveyance by the Official Secrets Acts. The charges are therefore embarrassing in that they force the accused to contravene a standing statute.”
The state led by the acting Prosecutor General Nelson Mutsonziwa opposed Mphoko’s application saying it was common knowledge that he was a public officer.
He submitted that the essential elements under Section 174 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act are that the person charged should be a public officer. Mutsonziwa said the person should be required to carry out specific duties in a particular manner.
“It is submitted that the accused ordered the police to release the two suspects in police custody when he did not have the powers to do so,” he said.
“It is again submitted that the conduct of the accused person indeed amounted to showing favour to the two suspects as he had no powers to order their release from detention pending court appearance.
“Accordingly, it is submitted that the charge sufficiently informs the accused of the offence and it is therefore properly couched and accordingly it also satisfies all the requirements under 174 of the code.”
Majaya had intended to postpone the ruling on the exception application but Zhuwarara told him Mphoko had travelled from Bulawayo and would have to sleep in his car.
The magistrate was then forced into making a ruling and he agreed with the prosecution, saying the charges had reasonable clarity and the former vice president would not be prejudiced in any way if he entered a plea.
Mphoko is expected to appeal the ruling at the High Court which would further delay the start of his trial possibly into the New Year.
Mphoko is charged with criminal abuse of office he allegedly went to Avondale Police Station and ordered police to release Norupiri and Juma who had been arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on corruption charges.
Prosecutors say Mphoko drove away with the two suspects in his car.
Source: Zim Live