Jailed Chikumba, Pfumbidzayi seek bail

HARARE - Jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss Peter Chikumba, has filed an appeal challenging his conviction and sentence in the High Court, and has attacked Harare magistrate Fadzai Mtombeni’s ruling, claiming the magistrate erred at law.

Chikumba was jailed for an effective seven years together with Grace Pfumbidzayi after being convicted on abuse of office charges.

Harare regional magistrate Mtombeni initially jailed the two for 10 years before suspending three years on condition of good behaviour.

While Chikumba filed an appeal, Pfumbidzayi yesterday applied for bail at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, where her matter was deferred to next week Monday.

Chikumba, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya, stated in his appeal that his conviction was arrived at on the basis of mere speculation and conjecture.

“The trier of fact erred in fact and at law when it convicted the appellant (Chikumba) on the basis of evidence of the co-accused person, Grace Pfumbidzayi, whom it did not find to be a credible witness as she had given a plethora of mutually destructive defences to the charges,” he said.

“Thus, the court a quo erred in fact and at law in basing a conviction on inadmissible evidence of another accused’s extra-curial statement without ensuring that the rules of admitting such evidence and ultimately relying upon it had been satisfied.”

He further said that Mtombeni had relied on evidence that was materially conflicting and contradicting from “shopped witnesses”.

Charges against Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba arose after an anomaly was discovered pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited (Navistar) in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

The duo enlisted the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender and terminated services of other existing companies.

However, Chikumba argued that there was no evidence that was adduced in court to prove that he had a meeting with Pfumbidzayi prior to the appointment of Navistar.

He said Mtombeni had sensationalised the case before making a finding that the airline was brought to its knees by Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi’s actions.

In her bail application, Pfumbidzayi said the sentence imposed was severe and induced a sense of shock.

“It was heavily weighed in favour of the interests of society without paying adequate attention to interests of the offender and thus invariably harsh and appears draconian,” she said.

“There was no evidence to show the extent of prejudice suffered by the airline and no evidence that the applicant benefited from the appointment of Navistar.

“Thus, if well argued in the appeal court maybe the other option of a fine in the penalty provision may be imposed.”

Comments (8)

The judge will have weighed all arguments in order to come up with a judgement and sentence. Of course no one wants to be incriminated but you have got to prove your innocence beyond any reasonable doubt, so Peter and Grace should do the same. The interest of the accused is taken away in order to protect society and the sentence is imposed to deter would offenders and send a clear picture to all. Ngavapike .Employees were not being paid whist they were busy milking the airline

Justice - 22 April 2015

@Justice. You need to know the law before you post anything on the forum. In any criminal case like this one, the prosecution has to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Chikumba and Pfumbidzai committed the crime as alleged. The burden of proof lies with the state and not the accused. This was not a civil case.Upabate ipapo before going emotional.

benso - 22 April 2015

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x company - 22 April 2015

@benso.The prosecution has proved that already and the judge concurred ,that's why she came up with that sentence. period

Justice - 22 April 2015

The case against Chikumba is very weak. I am surprised he was convicted. He needs to fight for a retrial. We pray for you man.

Chipunai - 22 April 2015

It sends the right message to all those politicians masquerading as CEOs of parastatals. Once you have reached your expiry date, you will regret all the loot you gained while supping with the devil. Guilty or not guilty in Zim you can die for nothing, so avoid doing things to please politicians, rather do the right thing for the country. Ngiyabonga!

Phaphamani - 22 April 2015

@justice the onus is on the state to prove the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt in any Criminal case....@benso the burden of proof in a civil case is not even 'beyond reasonable doubt' but it is 'on a balance of probabilities.'

cde Ngunzu The Gupta - 23 April 2015

The public at large is aware that Chikumba is no newcomer to a similar crime, he has been to Namibia and some international organization , where his performances and departures are all mired in criminal controversy. In this Air Zim saga he tried hiding behind Pfumbidzayi. A very interesting scenario for a CEO!!!

Mukanya - 24 April 2015

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