BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The State yesterday admitted in court that it has failed to locate and extradite fugitive former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, who is facing charges of criminal abuse of office.
Mzembi was being charged together with then permanent secretary Margaret Sangarwe and on another docket with Aaron Mushoriwa and Sussana Makombe.
The State had requested two months to organise Mzembi’s extradition, saying the process was long, but nothing has materialised yet.
Prosecutor Brian Vito yesterday told the court that they are now pursuing another option of separating Mzembi’s dockets with other accused persons for the
trial to proceed.
“We have challenges in securing the attendance of Walter Mzembi who is a fugitive from justice. We have now decided to separate the dockets for the trial to
continue. We are seeking for the postponement of the matter to September 5 for trial,” Vito said.
Presiding magistrate Hosea Mujaya then postponed the matter to September 5 for trial.
The State had indicated that they believe Mzembi was holed up in South Africa.
Addressing the court, Vito said they were unable to proceed to trial without the former minister and have made processes to extradite him from South Africa
where he is believed to be hold up.
“We cannot withdraw the charges of the co-accused before plea because the accused persons will disappear. We are asking for a long remand so that we do the
process which takes long,” Vito told the court at the last remand.
Mzembi’s lawyer Job Sikhala, however, defended his client, saying he was critically ill and unable to travel for the court.
Sikhala also said a video which was circulating on social media, showing Mzembi fit, was taken in 2016 in his office while still a minister.