ZIMBABWEANS CELEBRATE AS COURT REJECTS WICKNELL’S BAIL

Controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo, who is accused of fraud of over $172 million, was yesterday denied bail.

WEEKEND IN JAIL FOR WICKNELL

Chivayo appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Elisha Singano, who dismissed the bail application stating that Chivayo was a flight risk and if admitted to bail, might skip the jurisdiction of the court.

“The starting point is in the Constitution itself that any person who is arrested must be released unconditionally pending trial unless there are compelling reasons to deny him bail and this places a heavy burden on the State to prove its case.

“The State stated that if released on bail, Chivayo may attempt to influence and intimidate witnesses and of all the six witnesses, only Noah Gwariro was named but since the prosecutor has given a trial date- there is nothing he can do to interfere with complete investigations.

“In this regard, the State’s argument is weak because many of the transactions were done in the public domain such as the banks so evidence is difficult to tamper with,” said magistrate Singano.

He went on to elaborate on other components that are considered in bail consideration.

“With regards strength of the State case, the State argued that they have a watertight case against Chivayo and that they are ready for trial but however, that assertion was dismissed by the defence led by Advocate Uriri who argued that there was no misrepresentation and if there was any, to whom?

“On the money laundering charges, they claimed no money was ever placed in his Visa card by the Reserve Bank and the investigating officer was not helpful in establishing whether the money was loaded into his account to buy earth moving machines.

“It is not contested that he was given the money through Intratek, and whether pre-commencement work were done or feasibility were done cannot be done by a remand court so he needs to explain how he used the funds hence the State’s case cannot be deemed weak because he needs to account for public funds he used.

“It is without doubt that if convicted, Chivayo is likely to be given a lengthy sentence as the money involves public funds and although seriousness of an offence cannot be used to deny bail, it is worthy to note that he was arrested when he was attempting to fly to South Africa.

“He knew he was being sought after by the police and was unavailable as alleged by Advocate Uriri who called prominent lawyer Manase who testified on behalf of Chivayo referring to a letter that was written enquiring to the police why Chivayo was being sought which he was thoroughly cross examined on by Mr Reza,” said magistrate Singano.

He concluded saying, “At no time, did he surrender himself despite several chances he had, he was in fact pulled out of a plane bound to South Africa which is an indication to the court that he was absconding court and if admitted to bail, he will abscond.

“Chivayo is a businessman who has connections at every corner of the world and since he has shown that he cannot stand trial the issue of taking his passport becomes an invalid point hence this court rules that it should be taken cumulatively- the strength of the State case, the seriousness of the offense that involves public funds and the likelihood to flee hence it will jeopardize the justice system to release him on bail so he must wait and stand trial,” he said.

Chivayo remained expressionless as he listened to his bail ruling.

The matter was remanded to August 17 and the trial dates have been set from 27 to 29 August.

Michael Reza represented the State.

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