Police 'meddling' in Chombo jailing case

HARARE - A senior Mutare cop stands accused of harassing and intimidating a businessman who has been battling to recover more than a million dollars that was illegally seized by police in 2008, in a botched case that could see Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo jailed for 90 days.

Chombo has been frantically trying to avoid serving the jail term after he was found to be in contempt of court by the High Court last week for failing to facilitate the release of $78 900 to Mutare businessman Tendai Blessing Mangwiro which was seized by police eight years ago.

And in a separate case, the senior Zanu PF politburo member was also ordered to facilitate the release of a further $1,5 million belonging to Mangwiro within 14 days of the court’s ruling, failure of which he also risks getting imprisoned.

Mangwiro’s lawyer, Rungano Mahuni, told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) chief superintendent, identified only as Ndlovu, had allegedly called his client demanding to know the businessman’s source of income and whether he had a foreign currency account when police seized his money in 2008.

“The fact that he (Mangwiro) successfully prosecuted his case against the police and the court granted several orders for them to pay back the money police officers stole angered or infuriated them, hence this attempt to silence him from asserting his right to get his property back,” a fuming Mahuni said.

“What is interesting is that the inquiry comes at a time that Chombo has been found guilty of contempt. We think there is direct influence by the minister to arrest him (Mangwiro) so that he cannot assert his right.

“Everything is centred on the pressure that he is giving the State to pay back the money, because if there was a case they could have raised the issue a long time ago. We are not afraid and we will defend our client and sue them for malicious prosecution,” he added.

Police, who are answerable to Chombo, seized $78 900 and a further equivalent of $1,5 million from Mangwiro in 2008 after arresting him on theft charges, with the cops failing to return the money which was held as an exhibit following his subsequent acquittal on the charges in 2012.

Chombo said last week that police were in the process of releasing the $78 000, while at the same time writing to the ministry of Finance requesting for the $1,5 million to comply with the separate High Court order compelling him to release that money to Mangwiro before the expiry of 14 days.

“It is against this judgment that I request that payment of the amount of $1 537 833,33 be made from the Consolidated Fund in terms of the judgment…,” Chombo said in his letter addressed to Treasury permanent secretary Willard Manungo.

The Attorney General’s office has also since written to Mangwiro’s lawyers advising them of the steps Chombo is taking to settle the $1,5 million claim.

However, Mangwiro’s lawyers were on Friday still pushing for Chombo to be jailed over the outstanding $78 900.

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