CAPS boss Mtandah, State fight over passport

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The major shareholder of CAPS Holdings, owner of FCA Motors and Western Union local franchise holder, Frederick Mtandahh, facing charges of fraud involving more than $25 million, is embroiled in a fierce battle with the State over the return of his passport.

Mtandah was on Wednesday summoned to appear before a Harare magistrate to defend the State’s intention to seize his passport it had temporarily released to him.

Mtandah and his alleged accomplice Justice Majaka were arrested last month over an alleged $26 million fraud case. Mtandah was released on $1 000 bail while Majaka was granted $500 bail.

As part of his bail conditions, Mtandah was ordered to surrender his passport and two weeks ago, he applied for its temporary release, which application was not opposed by the State.

The court ordered the release of Mtandah’s passport from December 17 to January 12, 2012 and he was granted his travel document by the clerk of court.

But in a sudden turn of events, the State made a U-turn on December 20 and State counsel Jonathan Murombedzi wrote to Mtandah’s lawyers, Byron Venturas and Samukange, advising them they wanted him to return his passport.

The CAPS Holdings boss, who was initially represented by former Attorney-General Sobuza Gula Ndebele, but is now being represented by Jonathan Samukange, appeared before provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini to contest the State’s decision.

Samukange told the magistrate the State’s decision was an abuse of court processes and harassment of his client.

However, the State submitted there were changed circumstances that had prompted it to apply for the return of Mtandah’s passport.

The State indicated it intended to carry out extra-territorial investigations in South Africa and Europe hence they wanted to prevent the CAPS Holdings boss from travelling to the respective countries.

Samukange opposed the application, arguing his client was improperly brought before the court.

He questioned under what rule, authority or section of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act the State was relying upon to call Mtandah back to court when his next court date was January 12 next year.

Samukange argued his client and his co-accused, Majaka, got their passports after wide consultations with the Attorney-General’s representatives.

He said: “The court cannot reverse its order, but the State can appeal or seek a review of that order if it feels it was improperly done.

“My client cannot be made to suffer because the State alleges the person who consented (to the release of the passport) was either drunk or suffering mental insanity.”

The matter continues today.