Air Zim bosses' bail ruling deferred

HARARE - High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa will next Tuesday rule on an outstanding bail application filed by two Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Air Zimbabwe) bosses, accused of siphoning several millions of dollars from the struggling national airline.

Grace Nyaradzai Pfumbidzai, Air Zimbabwe’s former legal manager and company secretary; and Innocent Mavhunga, the airline’s ex-acting chief executive officer, are still in custody, pending determination of their bail appeal at the High Court.

Musakwa deferred the ruling to Tuesday, saying he wanted to consolidate the judgment, after the application’s submissions were made separately.

Pfumbidzai is appearing on a separate charge with the airline’s former chief executive officer Peter Chikumba.

High Court Judge Garainesu Mawadze has since granted the two $3 000 bail each.

Charges against Pfumbidzai and Chikumba arose last year after an anomaly was discovered on amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to a company called Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

The State alleges Navistar was appointed without following due process.

It is alleged the duo inflated aviation insurance premiums, working in cahoots with Givemore Nderere, Vukile Hlupo and Orten Mawire, who have since appeared before the court, facing related charges.

Their bail appeal was also deferred to next week Thursday.

According to state papers, inflated payments were allegedly made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited and Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited, both United Kingdom-based companies.

The firm allegedly released €15 452, 93 to Navistar, €10 607 859,22 to the two British companies, while they allegedly pocketed €5 895 695,49.

Pfumbidzai and Mavhunga allegedly swindled the airline of $360 448,68 by originating fictitious debit notes.

Andrew Muvirimi appeared on behalf of Pfumbidzai, while Ticharwa Garabga represented Mavhunga.

Muvirimi told the court that his client was a suitable candidate for bail. He said a Harare magistrate had erred in denying his client bail, without considering her defence outline.

“In the circumstances, the State’s case is very weak and the appellant may be acquitted,” Muvirimi said.

Prosecutor Innocent Muchini opposed the application, claiming the State had a strong case.

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