THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) says former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko is on the run after dramatically avoiding being arrested at the Bulawayo’s Tredgold Magistrates Court.
BY SILAS NKALA
In a statement yesterday, Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said: “Mphoko was supposed to meet Zacc officials, but he sped off at high speed. Zacc officials are on the ground trying to apprehend him.”
Mphoko is facing arrest for forcing the release from police custody of former Zimbabwe National Road Administration acting chief executive Moses Juma and non-executive director Davison Norupiri, who were in 2016 arrested by Zacc on allegations of defrauding the roads authority of US$1,3 million.
Last year, Juma was sentenced to 30 months in jail for criminal abuse of office.
When Mphoko was yesterday summoned by Zacc for questioning over charges of obstructing the course of justice and abuse of office during his tenure, he refused detention fearing poisoning, his lawyer Zibusiso Ncube has said.
Mphoko has accused Zacc officers of being dishonest, exhibiting improper conduct for attempting to arrest him without a warrant when they stormed his Bulawayo home last week.
Ncube said Zacc officers seemed interested in detaining the former VP, but according to his legal team, there were fears that he could be poisoned, hence the refusal to be taken in.
“There is a guy called Tsindi, who is investigating the former VP. We spoke on Friday and agreed that we would meet on Monday (yesterday) to sign a warned and cautioned statement. All of a sudden and without my knowledge, these people stormed Mphoko’s residence in a suspicious manner and tried to arrest him,” Ncube said.
He said Zacc officers wanted to detain Mphoko, but the ex-VP was opposed to the idea, saying if they were laying any charges on him, they should make him sign a warned and cautioned statement as well as prepare the documents for the matter to be taken to court.
“We had agreed with them that we would meet on Monday (yesterday) at the Tredgold Magistrates Courts and when I went there, they told me that there had been a change of plan to take him to (Bulawayo) Central Police Station. But I said unless there was proof that his security was guaranteed, it was not possible. This was because we had earlier on agreed that he must not be detained for fears that he might be poisoned. We do not know, probably (someone) might inject him with lethal substances,” Ncube said.
“We had agreed that they take him to court and would not be opposed to bail a application since the matter was later to be tried in Harare. We are prepared to go on trial at any time when they have given us State papers which we will study and use to prepare our defence. He has not yet been formally charged. He still needs to sign the warned and cautioned statement.”
Ncube said he would write to Zacc chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo over the concerns.
“We are ready for trial. They must give us a date. We will be there to defend the matter,” Ncube said.
Zacc officers visited Mphoko at his Bulawayo residence last week as part of their investigations into a case of alleged abuse of office during his tenure as former President Robert Mugabe’s deputy.
On Sunday, Zaac chair Loice Matanda-Moyo was quoted threatening to arrest Mphoko.
Mphoko was booted out of office following the November 2017 coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe.