By Geraldine Zaranyika
FORMER Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s bid to have his passport back hit a brick wall yesterday after he refused to submit title deeds to his Douglasdale home in Bulawayo as part of the conditions.
Mphoko, through his lawyer, Zibusiso Ncube, had applied for the passport to be returned to enable him to travel to South Africa to meet his business associates over five working days.
Mr Ncube assured the court that Mphoko would not abscond since all his family is in Bulawayo and has business interests in the country.
He also indicated that his client was ready to stand trial at any time.
“My client has never defaulted on his reporting conditions, interfered with the State witness and has never violated the trust entrusted in him by the court, he strictly adhered to his bail conditions,” he said.
“The administration of justice will not be tampered with if he is given his passport even if we were to be given a trial date tomorrow, the trial will not kick off in five days.”
The State, led by Mr George Manokore, opposed the application on the basis that the accused had not furnished the court with concrete details of his business trip and had also not complied with the condition set for the release of the passport.
“We told the defence that we wanted security in the form of title deeds to his property namely number 19 Douglasdale Road, Douglasdale in Bulawayo during the five days he will be in South Africa,” he said.
“We had agreed that we will hand over the passport when he gives us the title deeds and we will return them when he comes back from South Africa and surrenders the passport, but that did not find favour with the accused person.
“It is our belief that the failure by the accused person to hand over the title deeds points to the fact that he does not want to attach himself to the risk that will arise if he hands over the title deeds.”
Mr Ncube, however, argued that it was not proper to view his client as a flight risk without evidence. He said his client was worried about entrusting the State with his title deeds and had instead offered to surrender share certificates worth US$300 000 that the Government owes him.
“The title deeds are there, but we do not trust the State with them. My client is a former Vice President and we might wake up to find that the property belongs to the ruling party,” he said.
He accused the State of having a tendency of expropriating people’s properties.
Harare Provincial magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya threw out the application on grounds that there was no proof place the court that shows the Government owes Mphoko more than US$300 000.
He also indicated that the accused person has immovable property that is his house and other properties, but there is lack of trust between the accused and the State.
“The fact that the State is promising to give a trial date does not mean an accused person cannot get his passport, but no sufficient facts have been placed before me to support the application.”
Mr Mujaya, however, granted another application by the defence to have their court appearance yesterday deferred to October 10.