Chombo withdraws conviction appeal

HARARE- Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo’s has withdrawn his Supreme Court appeal in which he challenged his conviction on contempt of court.

Chombo was slapped with a 90-day jail term after being found guilty following his failure to action a court order directing him to facilitate the release of $78 900 confiscated from Mutare businessman Tendai Blessing Mangwiro.

Mangwiro’s money was seized by the police following his arrest in 2008 on theft charges. The police failed to return the money following his acquittal in 2012, claiming they had given the money to the then complainant Andrea Nsaka Nsaka.

“Please take notice that appellant (Chombo) hereby withdraws the appeal in this matter as notified herein,” reads the notice of withdrawal filed on March 22 by Chombo through the Attorney General’s office.

The withdrawal was filed after the lawyers from the Attorney General’s office earlier wrote a letter to Mangwiro’s lawyers Mahuni and Mutatu Legal Practitioners advising them that they intend to withdraw the case.

“Having gone through your application in which you sued the minister of Finance . . . wherein you made certain admissions . . . we are of the firm view that our appeal pending before the Supreme Court is of academic exercise now.

“What was in contention in our view has already been admitted by yourselves. Therefore, we will be withdrawing the appeal under SC673/16 with no order as to costs,” the letter dated March 10, 2017 reads.

Chombo had filed an appeal challenging High Court judge Amie Tsanga’s ruling. In the appeal, he argued that Tsanga had misdirected herself in finding him guilty on the contempt of court claim. He claimed that he was never served with the court papers culminating in the contempt of court conviction.

Mangwiro has been in and out of the court, pursuing his money. Despite High Court orders, the police had failed to return Mangwiro’s money, resulting in a prolonged legal battle, culminating in the verdict against Chombo.

“It is declared that the respondent (Chombo) is guilty of contempt of the court order of this honourable court granted under case number HC 4261/16 in that: He has wilfully disregarded the court orders in case number HC4766/13 and HC 4261/16 and refused to comply with them and further preventing the applicant (Mangwiro) from enjoying his right as established in the court.

“ . . . the respondent is sentenced to 90 days imprisonment with labour until full compliance by the respondent. The term of imprisonment shall be wholly suspended on condition that the respondent fully complies with the court orders . . . ,” Tsanga said.

The contempt of court case also came after Mangwiro also won another High Court order, demanding Chombo to facilitate the release of another Z$46 135 000 000, which is equivalent to $1,5 million which was also confiscated from him in 2008.

In his fight to recover his money, Mangwiro has since won a High Court order, which scrapped the State Liabilities Act from the statutes, in a possible move that will allow litigants to attach government property to service its own debt.

The ruling has been referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.

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