The recently de-specified, self-exiled fugitive and one of the founding ENG Capital Group directors, Gilbert Muponda, was yesterday remanded in custody following the confirmation of his warrant of arrest by a Harare magistrate, Donald Ndirowei.
“It is clear that the accused wilfully defaulted on March 13 2004 and is therefore remanded in custody until the case is tried or the State decides otherwise,” Ndirowei ruled before prison officers escorted Muponda into the holding cells.
Prior to the ruling, Muponda’s lawyer, Benjamin Chikowero, had submitted to the court that his client had not wilfully defaulted when he fled to Canada.
He told the court Muponda’s life was under threat allegedly from investors who had lost large sums of money through investments in ENG.
“The accused was receiving anonymous death threats and he perceived the calls to be coming from investors who alleged they lost huge sums of money and were after his life,” the lawyer submitted.
According to the evidence presented in court, Muponda surrendered himself to the police on Wednesday just after arriving from Canada.
Before coming back to Zimbabwe, Muponda is said to have presented himself to the Zimbabwean Embassy in Canada where he obtained a temporary travel document which he used.
However, prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema urged the court to confirm Muponda’s warrant of arrest, saying it was immaterial that he had handed himself to the Zimbabwean Embassy in Canada because the circumstances of him doing so after six or seven years had not been made clear.
Muponda and co-director Nyasha Watyoka were arrested in 2003 after ENG Capital failed to pay creditors.
The directors then placed ENG under voluntary liquidation in 2004, but Muponda later skipped bail and fled to Canada.
Watyoka was, however, set free by the magistrates’ court for lack of evidence and the State was ordered to proceed by way of summons.