BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A HARARE court yesterday dismissed an application by former Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo to force the clerk of court to release his passport which was last week confiscated by State security agents at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The passport was confiscated despite a court ruling which allowed him access to his travel document.
Chombo’s lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku said the State had no legal basis in continuing to withhold the passport.
“Your worship, your sister magistrate Barbara Mateko on May 10 granted an order for the release of my client’s passport and the order to which the State consented. The passport was then released by the clerk of court and normal procedures were followed,” Madhuku said. “Then on May 12, my client and his family abandoned their journey to South Africa where he had intended to seek medical attention. He went through all formalities at the airport and when he was about to board his flight, a security agent approached him and asked to check his passport. She took the passport and vanished. Efforts to locate her were futile.”
“All sort of excuses were given by immigration (department officials) until the flight could not wait any longer. They had to be offloaded because he had no passport. We asked the clerk of court if the passport had been returned and they confirmed, but did not tell us who returned it,” Madhuku said.
Madhuku said he wants the magistrate to order the clerk of court to release the passport since they had no legal basis to continue holding it against a court order.
He quoted section 164 (3) of the Constitution which says an order of the court or decision by the court must be obeyed by any arm of government and that it was strange for the State to oppose the application which was tantamount to disobeying the court order.
The State, however, represented by Michael Reza, said whatever happened outside the court in relation to the confiscation of the passport was none of their business.
Reza said when Chombo’s passport was released by the court on May 10, there was certain evidence which was not availed to the court and if it had been availed he would be sure that the passport would not have been released by the magistrate.
He told the court that there were other accused persons of similar standing who include Walter Mzembi, Saviour Kasukuwere, Godfrey Gandawa and Shadreck Mashayamombe who had their passports released on the pretext of seeking medical attention abroad, but did not return for trial.