HARARE - Former Air Zimbabwe (Air Zim) company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi and ex-group CEO, Peter Chikumba jointly charged with criminal abuse of duty and contravening the procurement Act will be put to their defence after the court’s ruling that they have a case to answer.
Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba through their lawyer Admire Rubaya applied for discharge at the close of the State case after arguing that prosecutors had failed to prove the essential elements that constitute the said offences.
However, Harare magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni dismissed the application because the State had managed to prove a prima facie case against the accused.
She said it was not disputed during trial that Navistar was appointed during the time accused persons were serving at Air Zim.
Mthombeni questioned why the appointment of Navistar remained a “matter under the carpet”.
Prosecutor Daniel Muchimbiri alleges that charges against Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba arose after an anomaly was discovered by former Air Zim board chairman Ozias Bvute pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to a company called Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited in respect of aviation insurance premiums.
It is alleged that the duo enlisted the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender and terminated services of other existing companies.
Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba are further accused of inflating aviation insurance premiums over payments 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 pocketed €5 895 695, 49.
In May 2009, it is alleged the duo and their three Navistar Insurance accomplices also misrepresented to Air Zim that there was an urgent need for the airline to pay $142 300 to the European Commission to dodge sanctions.
They allegedly converted the money to their own use.