JUSTICE Joseph Mafusire on Wednesday granted jailed former Air Zimbabwe CEO Peter Chikumba $2000 bail pending appeal after serving five months in prison.

Chikumba was convicted and jailed together with company secretary, Grace Pfumbidzai, early this year for criminal abuse of office.

The two were sentenced to seven years.

Chikumba, who is represented by lawyer Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza legal practitioners, approached the High Court twice challenging both conviction and sentence.

The first attempt was unfruitful but after the second application, Justice Mafusire ruled in favour of Chikumba, saying there were high chances of success on the appeal.

“On the contrary, it seems reasonable to assume he will want to go through the appeal process and be vindicated. He is 60 years old and is a man of substance.

“He is said to have, at one time or other, made international connections.

“But he makes the point that he is now too old to run away and re-invent himself in another country,” Justice Mafusire said.

The High Court judge ruled that Chikumba was a suitable candidate for bail pending appeal adding there was no risk of him absconding.

Justice Mafusire said allegations that he had connections outside the country were only based on the fact that he was once the boss of an airliner that plies international routes.

He said this does not necessarily mean that he has made international connections.

Chikumba had argued in his second notice of appeal that he was wrongly convicted by the trial magistrate.

He said he was charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer when, under the law, he was not a public officer.

Chikumba argued that the airliner was a private entity though the state had a share.

As part of his bail conditions, Justice Mafusire ordered him to surrender his travel documents and title deeds for his Borrowdale house.

He was also ordered to continue residing at the given address and report at Borrowdale police every Friday.

Charges against Chikumba and then then company secretary rose after an anomaly was discovered by former Air Zim board chairman Ozias Bvute pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to Navistar in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

 

It is alleged that the duo enlisted the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender. They allegedly terminated the services of other existing companies.

Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba were further accused of inflating aviation insurance premiums in payments made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited and Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited, both United Kingdom-based companies.

The two allegedly released €15 452, 93 to Navistar, €10, 6 million to the two British companies and allegedly pocketed €5, 8 million.

In May 2009, it is alleged the duo and their three Navistar accomplices also misrepresented to Air Zimbabwe that there was an urgent need for the airline to pay $142,300 to the European Commission to dodge sanctions.

They allegedly converted the money to their own use.

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