Covid-19: Remove people from remand, court told

By Margaret Matibiri
Zimbabwean lawyer, Tinofara Hove has pleaded with the courts to remove accused persons from remand in cases where the State is not ready to proceed with the trial as a mitigatory measure again Covid-19.
The virus which has taken the world by storm and has spread to over 135 countries killing over 8 000 people, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation(WHO).
Hove said this before Harare Magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa in a case in which he is representing retired Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Banda.
The State led by prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa was seeking a postponement on the matter in which Banda and Gloew Trading company supervisor, Raymond Mazodze (34) are facing a US$1,2 million fraud charge in a botched fuel donation scam due to outstanding issues.
Hove said the duo should be summoned to court by way of summons when the State is ready to proceed with the matter.
“We cannot congest this court especially with this Coronavirus, we need to decongest as is being done in other jurisdictions, courts are removing people from remand where the State is not ready to go to trial.
“The accused persons should be summoned to court when the court is ready and the police should not arrest to investigate, it brings the judicial system in disrepute.”
The duo has been on remand since October last year.
In response, Mitizirwa said the State was operating within the confines of the constitution which does not stipulate how long one should be on remand before a trial date is set but that it should be within a reasonable time and the State was within a reasonable time.
Magistrate Mugwagwa rolled over the matter to Friday for the ruling.
Banda and Mazodze are out on $1 800 bail each coupled with conditions.
Allegations are that sometime in July 2017, Banda and Mazodze devised a plan to evade payment of duty on the importation of fuel from South Africa.
Pursuant to their plan in August 2017, Mazodze, representing Gloew Trading which was purported to be registered in South Africa, approached ZPCS offering a donation of four million litres of diesel.
It is alleged that the fuel was in South Africa and ZPCS engaged the Ministry of Justice requesting a duty-free certificate which was issued by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for the acquisition of the four million litres which was handed over to Mazodze so that he would facilitate importation of the fuel.
The State alleges that upon receipt of the certificate from May 2017 to August 2018, Mazodze connived with Banda and drew a total of 1 130 500 litres of diesel from National Oil Infrastructure Company Msasa depot through CMED.
Instead of delivering all the fuel to ZPCS, the two only delivered 77 010 litres and allegedly converted the rest to own use.
To cover up for the offence, on December 5, 2017, Banda allegedly raised a fictitious acquittal in respect of the fuel, citing that, indeed, the four million litres of fuel was delivered at ZPCS.
The State further alleges as a result of the misrepresentation, Zimra was prejudiced of US$464 589 duty for 1,053 million litres of fuel and potential prejudice of US$1 299 410.
Nothing was recovered.