Prosecute Mutasa, Supreme Court says

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has ordered the Attorney General (AG) to allow Telecel Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Telecel) to prosecute ex-company chairperson Jane Mutasa through private proceedings, it emerged yesterday.

This comes as the High Court had dismissed Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile phone operators’ bid to obtain permission to pursue the $1,7 million fraud against the fiery Indigenous Business Women’s Organisation (IBWO) founder.

“A private corporation like the applicant is entitled to institute private prosecution,” Justice Bharat Patel said, before ordering the public prosecutor to issue a certificate within five days to allow the proceedings and telling the AG’s office to pay costs.

The ruling, which was widely embraced by Telecel’s lawyers, was delivered by the former AG with the unanimous agreement of Justice Paddington Garwe and Vernanda Ziyambi.

“It was a fair judgment. It’s purely a legal judgment. We will get the certificate and we will take it from there,” Isiah Mureriwa, the company’s attorney told journalists outside the Supreme Court building soon after the ruling.

While the AG’s office had declined to prosecute Mutasa and three others on the grounds that the James Makamba-led firm had no locus standi, the country’s highest court of appeal has ruled otherwise.

“A company cannot do a private prosecution. The history of private prosecution was only granted to a living human being.

“It’s only a human being who can institute private prosecution,” chief law officer Chris Mutangadura had argued.

Mutasa is jointly charged with Caroline Gwinyai, Charles Mapurisa and Egyptian national Naquib Omar over the alleged misappropriation of cash arising from airtime sales.

And as the AG’s office had ruled that the four “had no case to answer” — in line with its discretionary powers — High Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo had ruled in favour of the public prosecutor — and by extension the quartet.

However, Mureriwa successfully argued that the learned judge had erred in dismissing Telecel’s application, saying there was no reason for such a denial since there was overwhelming evidence against the four — an issue conceded by the State during a bail application by the accused.

“To suddenly turn around and say there is no evidence is grossly irrational. The AG has blocked the prosecution of the accused. This is what we are saying is unreasonable."

“We are dealing with a substantial loss of $1, 7m,” the Scanlen & Holderness senior practitioner said late last year.

Arising from this, Patel has ruled in Telecel’s favour.

Meanwhile, the charges against Mutasa and her co-accused arise from 2009 where the IBWO president allegedly instructed Omar to request stock from Telecel on behalf of Oxygon Investments and which arrangements reportedly prejudiced the telecommunications firm.

According to court records, the matter allegedly came to light when a company finance manager discovered the anomaly while preparing end-of-month financials for September 2009.

Comments (2)

Private prosecution,locus standi I thought you would atleast explain those terms for the unlearned readers like me so we can have a better picture of the story

Unlearned - 30 January 2014

m more confused....

Zvie - 30 January 2014

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