By Tendai Kamhungira
HARARE – High Court judge Owen Tagu has denied bail to jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss Peter Chikumba after ruling that he was a flight risk and that he had no prospects of success on appeal.
Chikumba is serving an effective seven-year prison term together with former Air Zimbabwe legal secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi.
“In my view, there are no prospects of success on appeal against conviction,” Tagu said, before dismissing the application.
“Apparently he (Chikumba) is a man of means. The State submitted that because of the nature of his past responsibilities, he obviously has international connections and coupled with lack of prospects of success on appeal, the applicant is a flight risk.”
Chikumba’s lawyer Admire Rubaya immediately told the Daily News that he was going to appeal against the ruling.
Charges against Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi 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 State accused the duo of enlisting the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender after terminating services of other existing companies.
In his judgment, Tagu said that it was clear that Chikumba was aware of the appointment of Navistar.
He noted the trial magistrate’s findings that Pfumbidzayi lied on some aspects.
Tagu, however, said that despite Pfumbidzayi blowing hot and cold, her behaviour was understandable.
“It is because Grace Pfumbidzayi was torn between two worlds,” he said. “She faced the dilemma to tell the truth and be convicted or to lie and be acquitted. She was in a desperate situation to save her soul.
“Even if Grace was found to have been a liar in some respects, the court was still supposed to accept those portions of her evidence where she told the truth and implicated the applicant.” Daily News