The case of former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has collapsed after the State indicated that the critical policy document that forms the basis of his criminal abuse of office charge went missing during the November 2017 military coup which toppled the late President Robert Mugabe.
Chombo, accused of facilitating the sale of a Government house in Mutare without following due process, was yesterday removed from remand after the State failed to produce a policy document crucial to his defence.
Chombo is jointly charged with former valuations and estate management director Lazarus Chimba. Regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya removed the pair from remand to allow the State to put its house in order, adding that the State would not suffer any prejudice.
The State will proceed by way of summons. On the last remand, the State was given a last chance to provide the document to the defence and the matter was remanded to yesterday. When Chombo and Chimba appeared in court yesterday, prosecutor Mr George Manokore told the court that they were failing to get the said document from the relevant ministry.
“Your worship, we have made efforts through the investigating officer, but we could not secure the said document,” he said.
“The police approached the permanent secretary for the ministry in question and were told it would require some time for them to get the document. They were told that the ministry had gone through some changes, hence the handover and takeover was yet to be done. This is beyond our control and I am proposing that we have a round-table meeting with all the relevant parties so that we map the way forward on how to get the document.”
Mr Manokore applied for the postponement of the matter to April 17 while they make efforts to obtain the document. The pair’s lawyers Professor Lovemore Madhuku and Mr Joel Mambara maintained that the State would not suffer any prejudice if their clients were removed from remand.
Prof Madhuku said, “Your worship, the State is confirming that the document does not exist and that document is at the centre of the charge the accused is facing. That document will determine whether or not they were acting in the confines of their duties.
“How did they even arrest him without that document? This clearly shows that the State is not ready for trial. We apply that they be removed from remand until the State puts its house in order, considering that they have been religiously coming to court.”
After hearing submissions from both parties, the court ruled in favour of the defence. It is the State’s case that Chombo, acting in common purpose with Chimba, entered into an agreement of sale with Fred Kanzama, a former Member of Parliament for Mutare South constituency, as the purchaser of the Government house at a cost of ZW70 trillion.
According to the State, Chombo and Chimba, being public officers, unlawfully and intentionally acted contrary to or inconsistent with their duties by showing favour to Kanzama
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