MDC-T councillor Johannes Ngozo, facing seven charges of fraud, theft and corruption, finally tasted freedom on Tuesday after the expiry of seven days required at law for the State to challenge bail at the High Court under section 121 of the Criminal and Evidence Procedure Act.
The State invoked section 121 of the Act to deny Ngozo freedom after he was granted bail of $500 and ordered to report once a week at Mbizo Police Station as part of the bail conditions.
The embattled councillor was on Tuesday granted bail after the State had initially contested Ngozo’s release on bail after bringing in three new charges against him.
Defence lawyer Valentine Mutatu had to make a fresh bail application before magistrate Letwin Rwodzi after a spirited attempt by the State to deny the councillor freedom.
The State, represented by Innocent Muchini, initially challenged the bail application, but later consented on condition Ngozo deposited another $500 as bail for the three new cases brought against him.
Magistrate Rwodzi however dismissed the application by the State ruling that Ngozo should be released on the same conditions initially granted by provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe on November 14.
In passing judgment, Rwodzi said bail was not meant to punish the accused, but to ensure that the ends of justice were met and therefore imposing a punitive bail was not ideal in administering justice.
Ngozo had spent 15 days in remand prison after he first appeared before Mahwe on November 7 facing four counts of fraud and theft. He was remanded to November 11 and Mutatu made a bail application which was granted, but the State was quick to invoke section 121.
The councillor faces allegations of defrauding seven homeseekers of over $10 000 in a land scam which could suck in council’s top managers. MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to fire all corrupt councilors from the party.