By Daniel Nemukuyu
Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday appeared at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court on criminal abuse of office charges and the magistrate freed him on $1 000 bail.
Mphoko, who reportedly escaped incarceration at a Bulawayo Police Station on Monday, yesterday appeared in court from home.
His lawyers communicated with ZACC officials, who agreed to meet him at court.
Mphoko is alleged to have unlawfully instructed officers at Avondale Police Station to release from custody, former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive officer Moses Juma and non-executive board member Davison Norupiri. The two were being charged with criminal abuse of office.
Bulawayo provincial magistrate Mr Aeneas Magate ordered Mphoko to report to CID’s Commercial Crimes Department (CCD) in Bulawayo once every week.
He should continue staying at Plot 119 Douglasdale Road in Bulawayo until finalisation of the case.
The court warned Mphoko against interfering with investigations and State witnesses.
Mr Magate also directed the State to investigate complaints by Mphoko that he was harassed by ZACC officials at his home prior to formal arrest.
However, Mphoko’s case has been transferred to Harare Magistrates’ Court, where he is expected to appear for routine remand on September 4.
According to the State papers, ZACC received a case in which Juma and Norupiri were being accused of fraud and criminal abuse of office on May 6 2016.
Investigations resulted in the arrest of the two for criminal abuse of office.
Warned and cautioned statements were recorded on July 12, 2016.
The two were detained at Avondale Police Station, Harare pending court appearance on July 14, 2016.
“On the same date at around 1800 hours, Mphoko, who was then Acting President of Zimbabwe, went to Avonadale Police Station where on arrival, he abused his duty by ordering the immediate release of the two accused persons from police custody.
“The officer-in-charge stood his ground challenging the unlawful instruction, but eventually succumbed to pressure from the accused and released the two accused persons from police cells.
“The accused then drove away in his vehicle,” reads part of the request for remand form.
This was done without ZACC’s knowledge.
On July 14, ZACC officers went to Avondale to pick up the accused persons for court appearance, but discovered that the VP had since ordered the pair’s unlawful release.
“Section 106 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly spells out the conduct of Vice Presidents, Ministers and Deputy Ministers and subsection (1) states that every VP must act in accordance with this Constitution.
“Subsection 2 (b) (c) of Section 106 also states that Vice Presidents shall not act in any way that is inconsistent with their office or use their position to improperly benefit any other person,” reads the State papers.
The State contends that Mphoko acted inconsistent with his duties in releasing the duo and that he also showed favour to them in the process.