Zimbabwe: Biotech Boss Gets Bail

Court Correspondent

HARARE Magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje has granted $50 000 bail to National Biotechnology Authority chief executive officer Jonathan Mufandaedza who is facing 22 counts of criminal abuse of office and one of fraud.

As part of his bail conditions the accused was ordered to surrender his passport to the Clerk of Court and to report twice a week at Chinhoyi Police Station.

In his ruling Mr Mambanje said bail was a right which should be enjoyed by any person arrested.

He said the State failed to tender a contract of employment of the accused person to prove that he was not entitled to the benefits in question.

Mr Mambanje said the accused was suspended in 2019 and had not been in touch with his subordinates.

He said the State failed to prove how the accused was likely to tamper with documentary evidence.

The State led by Mrs Netsai Mushayabasa had opposed bail saying the accused was likely to interfere with witnesses who were his subordinates.

In response, Mufandaedza’s lawyer Mr Everson Chatambudza said it was impossible for his client to influence or interfere with his subordinates since he was suspended.

“My client was aware that police were investigating this matter and he never attempted to interfere with anyone,” said Mr Chatambudza.

“The State wants to make this case serious by splitting charges unnecessarily otherwise we have only two counts here.

Mr Chatambudza told the court that the allegations being levelled against his client were weak and chances of him absconding were next to zero.The court heard in 2015, Mufandaedza misrepresented to the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA), by tendering a memorandum of payment of US$2 500 to himself, Walter Sanyika, Zedias Chikwambi and Antony Phiri saying they had prepared a National Report on Implementation of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety while in actual fact the report was done by Anna Takombwa.

It is further alleged that Mufandaedza on December 19, 2013 instructed his personal assistant Nothando Mkandhla to deposit US$6 160 which was for a holiday in South Africa when his contract did not include a holiday allowance.

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