Five of the incarcerated suspended Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) officials were Wednesday released from remand prison after a series of courthouse drama in which circumstances of the case changed with amazing frequency.
Frail Zanu PF politburo member and former party spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira added a dimension to the plot when he made an appearance at the court.
In twists and turns of events, lawyers and prosecutors in the case made applications and counter applications before a Harare magistrate and at the High Court.
Harare provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe finally granted bail to the four accused but refused to release suspended ZMDC chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa whom he said was the principal offender.
“The state failed to establish that the accused persons are not good candidates for bail although it cannot be denied that this is a serious offence.
“But as regards the second accused (Mubaiwa) he is the principal offender and his circumstances are different from the rest, hence he will remain in custody to allow the police to carry out their extraterritorial investigations,” Guvamombe said.
Shamuyarira, who rarely makes public appearances these days, later told journalists that he was interested in the case because his neighbour Ashton Sibusiso Ndlovu was one of the accused.
“Ndlovu is my neighbour, his house is next to mine in Borrowdale. I came to hear what the charge is all about.”
When, after the magistrate granted the accused persons bail, the state invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Shamuyarira said that piece of legislation was not fair.
“I am disappointed by the state’s invocation of that section. It is a delaying tactic which will keep these people in custody unnecessarily,” Shamuyarira said.
As the convoluted case proceeded, the State eventually withdrew the invocation allowing the accused persons freedom.
Earlier Wednesday, High Court Judge President Justice George Chiweshe ordered the immediate release of the director of Core Mining and Mineral Resources Lovemore Kurotwi compelling the enforcement of the previous order that had been challenged by the police.
Kurotwi’s legal team stopped Guvamombe as he prepared to deliver his bail ruling and tendered the High Court order which sought to immediately remove their client from the court proceedings.
“Your Worship, before you proceed, we have a High Court order that we obtained today at 10:00am from the Judge President and it reads as follows:
‘That the third respondent (magistrate) stop forthwith any proceedings that he is currently entertaining relating to applicant’s (Kurotwi) remand; and
“That there be compliance with the order of the High Court issued on November 6, that is applicant be released forthwith from prison custody’.” The order was read by Kurotwi’s lawyer George Chikumbirike.
The urgent chamber application was drafted by Chikumbirike and certificate of urgency by Shingirai Mutumbwa while the founding affidavit was filed by Belinda Rupapa, the lawyers that make part of the team fighting for Kurotwi’s liberty.
Chief law officer Chris Mutangadura confirmed the position to the provincial magistrate and Guvamombe adjourned proceedings to revise the already prepared bail ruling.
Kurotwi’s relatives and friends celebrated openly as the magistrate pronounced that he was a free man.
The State has, however, given notice of intention to challenge the High Court decision to free Kurotwi.
“We are complying with the order for him to be released but we are appealing on a point of law. The state is challenging the decision by the High Court in order to set the law straight,” Mutangadura said in an interview after the ruling.
Mutangadura however said the State would not challenge the release on bail of Ndlovu, John Tichaona Muhonde, Gloria Mawarire and Mark Tsomondo.
They are on $2 000 bail and have been ordered to surrender their passports, to report daily at Harare CID minerals, not to travel 40km outside the the city centre without the authority of the investigating officer , to reside at their given addresses and not to interfere with the witnesses.