NPA revives criminal charges against suspended ZIFA boss Felton Kamambo
HARARE – Zimbabwean authorities have revived criminal charges against Zimbabwe’s Football Association president, days after his board was suspended over a poor run of results by the national team.
Felton Kamambo and three other members of the ZIFA executive were acquitted in September on charges of defeating the course of justice after they diverted money from the association’s regular account to a private account to evade creditors.
Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi has filed an appeal at the High Court, seeking a retrial at the Magistrates Court under a different magistrate.
It was unclear if the move to revive the charges is related to a controversial decision by the Sports and Recreation Commission to suspend Kamambo’s executive, which would appear to breach FIFA statutes.
FIFA said it is monitoring the situation amid fears Zimbabwe could be suspended from international football, including January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.
Hodzi through law officer, Tendayi Shonhai, has told the High Court that magistrate Stanford Mambbanje grossly erred in clearing Kamambo and his co-accused Phillimon Machana, Bryton Malandule and Farai Jere of wrongdoing.
The National Prosecuting Authority is seeking a fresh trial under a different magistrate.
“Mambanje’s decision to quash the charges and return a verdict of not guilty against the four was grossly irregular in its defiance of logic that no sensible court having applied its mind would arrive at it,” Shonhai is arguing.
“There was gross irregularity in the decision to such an extent that the magistrate failed to appreciate the nature of the application before him… and this anomaly created an unlevel playing field for the state as it has been robbed of an opportunity to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The courts are very strict in applications of this nature and are not quick to grant any relief unless in exceptional and compelling circumstances. It is my considered view that my case falls within the realm of exceptional circumstances warranting the honourable court to interfere with the proceedings in my matter which has already been terminated by the magistrate.”
Prosecutors alleged the quartet connived and moved US$740,000 from ZIFA’s account into an account belonging to Conduit Investments, a company which owned by Machana, sometime in 2019.
Machana is the board member in charge of finance, Malandule is in charge of competitions and development while Jere sits on the board by virtue of his position as Premier Soccer League chairman.
In 2018, Daisy Guest House (Pvt) Limited had obtained a garnishee order against ZIFA for US$161,172, but magistrate Mambanje found that it specifically mentioned ZIFA’s account held with Steward Bank and not Ecobank, where the money was transferred from.
He ruled that the money transferred to Machana’s account was therefore not judicial funds.
“It is strange why the Sheriff rushed to the Ecobank account when the court order says Steward Bank,” Mambanje said. “This was suspicious, as the Sheriff does not embark on such, on his own.
“From the agreed facts, as the state alleges the offence was committed, there was no legal process. Garnishee orders are granted in specific terms and no such order (was granted) against Ecobank.
“At that time, Ecobank account was not under any attachment and there was nothing which could stop the transfer. The legal process commenced way long after the day of the alleged offence was committed.”
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