The National Prosecuting Authority’s appeal against the acquittal of three Navistar Insurance Brokers managers is defective and cannot withstand the scrutiny of the appellant court, the Navistar bosses claimed in defence of their acquittal.
Givemore Nderere (46), Vukile Hlupo (46) and Orten Mawire (61) were cleared of swindling Air Zimbabwe of $796 079 in an alleged insurance scam.
But the trio is not yet off the hook as the NPA recently filed its appeal papers at the High Court to quash the lower court’s decision on the basis that the trial magistrate erred in finding them not guilty.
Through their lawyers Gonese and Ndlovu, the trio argued that the papers filed by the NPA were bad at law and could not be cured.
“The applicant (NPA) has not complied with the rules of court relating to noting of appeals,” said the Navistar bosses in their objection to the appeal.
It is also contended on the preliminary point that the proposed grounds of appeal do not clearly set out points of law on which the NPA seeks to rely at appeal.
On the merits, the trio argued that the testimony of convicted former Air Zimbabwe company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi revealed that she made serious concessions in their favour.
Pfumbidzayi conceded under cross-examination that there was never misrepresentations by either Navistar Insurance Brokers or by any one of the trio.
She also allegedly conceded that there was never any prejudice to Air Zimbabwe.
At all material times, said Pfumbidzayi in her testimony, the airline was adequately insured by Altfin Insurance or through Navistar Insurance Brokers’ professional indemnity cover.
This, the Navistar bosses argue, was fatal to the prosecution’s case.
The trio further argued that the prosecution failed to rebut the testimony by Pfumbidzayi that was in their favour.
While the three acknowledge their insurance company failed to run its business properly, they state that bad corporate governance is not a crime.
“There was never any attempt to pierce the corporate veil and no evidence to suggest that we individually profited,” said Nderere in the papers submitted at the High Court opposing the State’s appeal.
It was the State’s case that the trio connived with the then Air Zimbabwe bosses Peter Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi to defraud the national airline by inflating aviation insurance premiums.
The group, it was alleged, presented several inflated debit notes to the airline, leading to payment of aviation insurance premiums last year.