Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Former Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba (pictured right), who was last week jailed for seven years for criminal abuse of office, has approached the High Court contesting both his conviction and sentence. Chikumba was convicted of allegedly conniving with the airline’s ex-company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi to swindle Airzim of $10 million in an insurance scam.
Chikumba has instructed his lawyer, Mr Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza law firm, to file the appeal.
In a notice of appeal filed on Monday, Chikumba argued that the trial magistrate wrongly convicted him based on evidence led from witnesses who were not credible.
Chikumba said the court erred by relying on evidence by Pfumbidzayi whose credibility was questionable.
“The trier of fact erred in fact and at law when it convicted the appellant on the basis of evidence of the co-accused person, Grace Pfumbidzayi, whom it did not find to be a credible witness as she had given a plethora of mutually destructive defences to the charges.
“Thus, the court a quo erred in fact and at law in basing a conviction on inadmissible evidence of another accused’s extra-curial statement without ensuring that the rules of admitting such evidence and ultimately relying upon it had been satisfied,” reads the notice appeal.
It is Chikumba’s contention that the court erred by convicting him based on evidence that was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions.
Chikumba argued that the court did not consider his submissions in mitigation, resulting in the imposition of a harsh penalty.
Charges against Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba arose after an anomaly was discovered by former Airzim board chairman Mr Ozias Bvute pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to a company called Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Ltd in respect of aviation insurance premiums.
Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba also reportedly inflated aviation insurance premiums in payments made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Pvt) Ltd and Reinsurance Brokers (Pvt) Ltd, both United Kingdom-based companies. The firm released €15 452,93 to Navistar, €10 607 859,22 to the two British companies, while the two executives reportedly pocketed €5 895 695,49.