FORMER Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was yesterday granted bail of $3 000 by a Harare magistrate after appearing in court facing four charges of criminal abuse of office for allegedly fraudulently parcelling vast tracts of State land to former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s sister, Shuvai Gumbochuma, among others.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Kasukuwere, who is represented by Jonathan Samukange, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared before magistrate Hosea Mujaya who remanded him to October 9.
As part of his bail conditions, Kasukuwere was ordered to surrender his passport and title deeds to his Nyanga resort and to report to police twice a day. He was also ordered to reside at his Borrowdale residence and not to interfere with State witness, George Manyere.
Kasukuwere’s appearance in court was witnessed by Acting Prosecutor-General, Kumbirai Hodzi who told magistrate Mujaya that he was familiarising himself with how the anti-corruption courts work.
Hodzi warned Samukange not to file unnecessary court applications, to which the lawyer retorted that Hodzi would suffer the same fate of his predecessors Johannes Tomana and Ray Goba.
However, Hodzi recused himself and handed over proceedings to chief law officer Michael Reza and Zivanai Macharaga from the Anti-Corruption Unit, who unsuccessfully opposed bail saying Kasukuwere was a flight risk.
Macharaga told court that Kasukuwere only handed himself over to the police after he received information that an international warrant for his arrest had been issued with Interpol.
He said there was overwhelming evidence that Kasukuwere dished out land to his cronies, prejudicing the State and that the public wanted to see the judiciary not going easy on people facing corruption charges.
Superintendent Josphat Mutipforo told the court that the police visited Kasukuwere’s residence several times and could not find him before approaching the courts for a warrant.
Samukange asked Mutipforo to produce a police diary and evidence of the international warrant of arrest issued by the Interpol, to which the cop said he did not have.
Samukange said Kasukuwere was not a flight risk as he surrendered himself to the police despite his knowledge of the allegations. He said Kasukuwere also previously appeared in court this year on charges of breaching the Borders Control Act and adhered to the conditions of his bail.
The State then proposed a $100 000 bail and surety of an immovable property worth $5 million but Samkange countered with an offer of $1 000 and a surety of an immovable property worth $250 000.
Mujaya said the State failed to proffer strong reasons to deny Kasukuwere bail which is now a constitutional right.
The State alleges that in 2012, Kasukuwere, when he was a Minister of Youth and Indigenisation, engaged Brainworks (Pvt) Ltd led by George Manyere to do consultancy work without following due process.
He is also accused of issuing vast tracts of land to, among others Gumbochuma (150 hectares) and Zimnat Insurance (120 hectares).