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Africom bosses spend weekend behind bars

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Incarcerated Africom Holdings bosses and a local businessman, who are accused of espionage, are today expected to make an application for bail after spending the weekend behind bars.

Africom acting chief executive Simba Mangwende and non-executive director Farai Rwodzi together with Oliver Chiku of Global Satellite Systems were picked up by police on Thursday last week on allegations of illegally setting up satellite communication equipment and leaking official secrets to foreign countries.

The businessmen are also being charged with contravening Section 33 (i) of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, which makes it an offence for one to illegally possess, control or work for a radio station.

The State alleges the trio connived and installed communication equipment at a location that was not disclosed in court papers and connected it to the Africom main network system without authority from Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.

Between July and Thursday last week, the three allegedly sent confidential security information to Canada, the United States and Afghanistan.

It is alleged Chiku, who is connected to a Canadian firm, Juch Tech, invited the company’s representatives to Zimbabwe where he allegedly organised a meeting with Rwodzi and discussed the installation of satellite dishes and other equipment capable of transmitting Internet voice over the Internet protocol.

The two allegedly agreed and Rwodzi referred Chiku and Juch Tech representatives to Mangwende, who then instructed Africom engineers to install the equipment brought in by Chiku and the Canadians.

The three were not asked to plead when they appeared before provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi.

They are being represented by Atherstone and Cook, IEG Musimbe and Wintertons law firms. Prosecutors Jonathan Murombedzi and Michael Reza appeared for the State.

The trio’s lawyers have challenged a copy of authority to prosecute that was presented by Murombedzi in respect of the espionage charge, arguing it was not signed by the Attorney-General (AG), Johannes Tomana.

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