Fugitive CIO boss nabbed

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Former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) deputy director-general Lovemore Mukandi — who fled Zimbabwe and sought refuge in Canada in 2001 — was extradited back home last week and immediately arrested for alleged fraud.

He is being accused of defrauding the State of Z$17 million in a scam involving the construction of five CIO safe houses.

Attorney-General (AG) Johannes Tomana confirmed the extradition yesterday, saying: “It’s correct, he has been brought back. I can confirm that. But you can get the facts from Deputy AG (Florence) Ziyambi or Acting Director of Public Prosecutions (Tawanda) Zvekare,” he said.

Zvekare said he would only comment on circumstances surrounding Mukandi’s extradition today, as he was appearing in court yesterday for cancellation of his warrant of arrest.

“Today’s proceedings have a bearing on what you are asking, so the best day to comment would be tomorrow (today),” he said.

Mukandi was on Friday taken to Rotten Row Magistrates’ Court on a 10-year-old warrant of arrest and appeared before Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei to apply for its cancellation.

Ndirowei deferred the ruling on the application to today after submissions by the State and defence counsels.
Mukandi, who was dismissed from the CIO in 1999, fled at a time he was facing allegations of defrauding the CIO of millions of Zimbabwean dollars through a scam involving construction of safe houses in Harare’s plush Glen Lorne suburb. The Z$17 million fraud allegedly occurred in 1998.

Mukandi fled the country in October 2001 and since then, the Zimbabwean government has been battling to secure his extradition amid reports Harare had no extradition treaty with Canada where the ex-CIO boss was holed up.

Back then, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament Mukandi’s extradition was imminent and assured the august House the fugitive would be brought home for trial within a month.

Chinamasa said he did not know how Mukandi had fled despite having a pending case and suggested he could have taken advantage of the fact that no visas were required to visit Canada then.