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Court frees spy suspects on bail


The magistrate presiding over the bail hearing of Africom Holdings bosses Simba Mangwende and Farai Rwodzi and Global Satellite Systems director Oliver Chiku yesterday released the three, saying the State had a daunting task in proving a spying case against them.

Provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi said the State had failed to produce evidence to prove existence of hostilities between Zimbabwe and the countries to which the three men are alleged to have sent confidential information.

Mangwende, Rwodzi and Chiku are being charged with espionage in that they allegedly collected government secrets and sent them to foreign countries.

The three 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 a radio station.

They are alleged to have set up a satellite system through a company called Juch Tech and sent messages to the United States of America, Canada and Afghanistan. But their lawyers challenged the State to prove if there was a Presidential proclamation to the effect that the said countries were enemies of Zimbabwe.

“In the situation that we have, there is no state of hostilities and by the same reason even if Juch Tech is associated with Canada, it cannot be said to be an enemy and therefore the State case is week,” said Nikita Madya, one of the lawyers representing the accused.

The magistrate ruled: “The State failed to produce evidence that there is hostility between this country and the mentioned countries and there is no doubt that the State case is flawed.”

Mutevedzi said he had refused to be swayed by public opinion in granting the three men bail and had looked into the merits and demerits of the case.
He said assertions by the State that the accused were a flight risk were just conjecture not supported by facts.

He said the submissions by the State that Mangwende, Rwodzi and Chiku had contacts outside the country and therefore would skip the jurisdiction of the court if granted bail, had no merit.

The magistrate further said the State had failed to find bases to advance the argument that the three men were likely to interfere with witnesses if they were to be released on bail.

“In order to strike a balance between the two adversaries, I am convinced the three accused are suitable candidates for bail,” Mutevedzi said, ordering Mangwende and Rwodzi to each pay $2 000 bail while Chiku paid $700.

As part of their bail conditions, they were ordered to surrender their travel documents, reside at addresses supplied to the police and to report to CID Law and Order every Monday and Friday until the finalisation of the matter.

Other lawyers representing the three are Advocate Lewis Uriri and Innocent Musimbe. The State is being represented by area public prosecutor Jonathan Murombedzi and Michael Reza.

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