JAILED former Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer Peter Chikumba yesterday received a lifeline after High Court judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera ruled in his favour and extended his $2 000 bail following dismissal of his criminal appeal by the Appeal Court last month.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The former Air Zimbabwe boss was, together with airline former secretary, Grace Pfumbidzai, slapped with a 10-year jail term each for criminal abuse of office in April 2015 but they appealed against both conviction and sentence, which appeal was recently dismissed by Justices Edith Mushore and Charles Hungwe.
The dismissal of the duo’s appeal effectively meant they were supposed to have been incarcerated and serve their jail terms, but Chikumba’s lawyer Admire Rubaya, instructed by Advocate Thabani Mpofu successfully applied for the extension of his client’s bail conditions pending another appeal to be determined by the Supreme Court.
The basis for the dismissal of Chikumba’s appeal by the High Court was it did not comply with rule 22(1) of the Supreme Court which provides that “a notice of appeal shall clearly and specifically set out the grounds of appeal”.
Justices Mushore and Hungwe also made a finding that the application by Chikumba to amend his grounds of appeal did not have merit as it failed to meet the requirements of rule 6 of the Supreme Court.
However, in his grounds of appeal filed at the Supreme Court, Advocate Mpofu said the judges erred in holding that there was no valid appeal before them on the basis that the grounds of appeal were not clear and specific.
“…And so erred when consideration is given to the fact that the court a quo (High Court) did not attempt to show why it came to the conclusion that the grounds of appeal were in fact invalid,” Mpofu said.
“…..The court a quo misdirected itself and completely lost its path in that it failed to deal with the only petition that was before it, namely the application to amend the grounds of appeal. The court a quo erred in coming to the conclusion that no application for condonation for late filing of amended grounds of appeal had been made before it and so confused itself when consideration is given to the fact that it later held that it could not entertain the application for condonation which had admittedly been made.”
Mpofu further added: “……The court a quo erred in making an outrageous costs award in a criminal appeal without laying a legal basis for making such an award.”
Prosecutor Editor Mavuto represented the State.