High Court defers Kereke bail hearing

HARARE - The High Court yesterday deferred a hearing on bail, a plea of jailed former Zanu PF legislator Munyaradzi Kereke, currently serving a 10-year jail term for raping his 11-year-old niece at gunpoint.

The court will resume its hearing tomorrow on whether to grant bail to Kereke.

The maverick businessman has approached the High Court again seeking to be released on bail, arguing there are changed circumstances after his earlier bid was thrown out by Justice Happious Zhou last month. In the current application, Kereke’s estranged wife has offered to accommodate him under a house arrest pending the hearing of the businessman’s appeal.

However, a lawyer representing the raped girl’s guardian yesterday said he needed time to respond to the application, prompting High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi to defer the hearing to tomorrow.

Kereke, who is challenging both his conviction and sentence, approached the High Court demanding to be freed pending the hearing of the appeal.

Denying Kereke bail last month, Zhou noted that there was a high likelihood that the politician would flee the administration of justice if freed following his prison stint.
“The applicant has been exposed to prison life, he was convicted of a very serious offence and a long prison term imposed. It makes it difficult that he would not abscond if granted bail,” Zhou ruled.

“It would be improper to ignore scepticism of the applicant’s innocence by the learned magistrate who convicted him.

“His conduct which was found of being manipulative and interfering with evidence makes it difficult for the court to believe that he will not do the same if released.”

The court further ruled that Kereke was not a person of fixed abode as he has several places of residence and may frustrate the administration of justice.

However, his estranged wife Elizabeth Sibanda has undertaken to surrender title deeds to her Mandara property as surety for Kereke’s freedom. She also offered to fund overhead expenses incurred if Kereke was allowed to be placed under house arrest.

Another couple, Arnold Chidhakwa and his wife Barbara have also offered another property as surety, in a development his lawyers argued provided changed circumstances and warranted their client’s release on bail.

Kereke fell from grace in July this year when Harare regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa slapped him with a 14-year jail term after convicting him on rape charges following private prosecution proceedings instituted by the raped girl’s guardian Francis Maramwidze, through lawyer Charles Warara.

Four years were suspended on condition that Kereke does not commit an offence of sexual nature within five years of his release.

This followed a six-year legal battle, in which suspended Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana declined to prosecute the businessman on the basis that he had no case to answer.

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