Five Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) officials, out on bail in a case of alleged massive diamond fraud, could spend Christmas behind bars if the High Court turns down pending bail applications if their indictment expected on December 9 succeeds.
On Wednesday, the accused appeared at the Harare magistrates’ court where the state said investigations were complete and it was ready to formally charge them in the High Court for trial.
This development threatens their temporary freedom because it means they would have to return to remand prison while applying for fresh bail at the High Court.
They accused are Dominic Mubaiwa, John Tichaona Muhonde, Gloria Mawarire, Ashton Sibusiso Ndlovu and Mark Tsomondo.
They were arrested for allegedly acting in cahoots to defraud ZMDC and the government of over $10 million.
Defence lawyers led by Advocate Louis Uriri were yesterday ready to cross-examine ZMDC chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa and challenge the placement on remand of five of the accused, but all changed after the state said it was ready for trial.
The director of Core Mining and Mining Resources Lovemore Kurotwi, who was not in court on Wednesday, is also expected to be formally charged on December 9.
The intention to indict was made during an application by the defence seeking the relaxation of bail conditions of the five ZMDC officials before provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe.
Director of public prosecutions Florence Ziyambi said the six accused persons, Kurotwi included, on the next remand date would be remanded in custody awaiting trial during the first sitting of the High Court next year.
The state, she said, was therefore opposed to the relaxation of their bail conditions.
“I wish to inform the court that investigations were completed and the dockets were handed to our offices,” Ziyambi said.
“As we speak, I have the dockets with me here and we are preparing the indictment papers. As such, the state fears the accused may abscond if conditions are relaxed because we have a strong case against them.”
Ziyambi said Kurotwi, who is on different and lighter bail conditions, was released on a technicality and not on merit.
He would also be remanded in custody with the others until such a time for when the High Court granted them bail, she said.
Uriri told the court that if the state failed to indict their clients on the next remand date, the defence would proceed to cross-examine Masimirembwa and apply for the accused to be removed from remand.