Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
Former Air Zimbabwe company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi, who was recently jailed for seven years effective for criminal abuse of office, yesterday approached the Harare Magistrates’ Court seeking bail pending her appeal against both conviction and sentence at the High Court. She wants the High Court to quash the conviction.
Pfumbidzayi, who was jailed together with the airline’s former chief executive, Peter Chikumba, offered to pay $10 000 as bail.
In her application through her lawyer, Mr Andrew Muvirimi of Muvirimi and Associates, Pfumbidzayi said the sentence was heavily weighted in favour of the needs of society without paying adequate attention to the interest of the offender.
She said if her facts were well argued and articulated on appeal, the option of a fine provided for in the penalty provision could be imposed.
Pfumbidzayi argued that there was a crisis on January 31 2009 at Airzim and that she had a duty to use her legal mind to assist and minimise the risk.
She said her moral blameworthiness in this matter was relevant.
The magistrate, the lawyer argued, erred by concluding that the auditor, Bhudhama Chikamhi, was a credible witness when he stood to benefit financially by testifying against Pfumbidzayi in the trial.
Mr Muvirimi said there was no evidence to show that his client benefited from the offence.
“The court wrongly concluded that she benefited from the commission of the offence and that Air Zimbabwe suffered ‘a lot of prejudice’ when there was no such evidence,” he said.
He also said Pfumbidzayi had positive grounds on why she should be admitted to bail adding that her relatives were willing to deposit $10 000 bail.
Mr Muvirimi said Pfumbidzayi was not a flight risk and if granted bail, she would continue residing at her given address until the finalisation of the matter.
Magistrate Ms Fadzai Mthombeni rolled over the matter to Monday next week when prosecutor Mr Daniel Muchimbiri is expected to respond to the application.
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 reportedly inflated aviation insurance premiums in payments to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Ltd and Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Ltd, both United Kingdom-based companies.