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Court Upholds AirZim ex-Bosses Appeal

Pfumbidzai and Chikumba appealed against both conviction and sentence, arguing that they were wrongly convicted.

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Court Upholds AirZim ex-Bosses Appeal

THE High Court has upheld an appeal by former Air Zimbabwe bosses Peter Chikumba and Grace Pfumbidzai who were challenging their conviction for swindling the airline of $10 million.

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Chikumba, Air Zimbabwe’s ex-chief executive, and Pfumbidzai, the airline’s former corporate secretary, were in 2015, convicted of criminal abuse of office and sentenced to an effective seven years in prison each.

They were then freed by the High Court on bail pending the determination of their appeal against conviction and sentence.

Former High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore later dismissed their appeals, saying they were fatally defective.

Their lawyers had unsuccessfully applied for permission to amend the notice of appeal, resulting in the dismissal of the appeals.

The judge said it was not possible to amend a fatally defective appeal.

On Monday during a civil appeals court, Harare High Court judges, Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero quashed Chikumba and Pfumbidzai’s convictions. The judgement read:

Whereupon, after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered by consent that the appeal be and is hereby allowed. The conviction is quashed.

Pfumbidzai was represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu while Chikumba’s lawyer was Tapiwanashe Kujinga.

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Pfumbidzai and Chikumba appealed against both conviction and sentence, arguing that they were wrongly convicted.

Court Upholds AirZim ex-Bosses Appeal

In the notice of appeal, their lawyers submitted that the magistrate misdirected herself by failing to assess all the evidence adduced in the trial.

The magistrate, the lawyers argued, erred by concluding that the auditor, Bhudhama Chikamhi, was a credible witness when he stood to benefit financially by testifying against the duo.

Charges against Pfumbidzai and Chikumba arose after an anomaly was discovered by former Air Zimbabwe board chairman Mr Ozias Bvute pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to a company called Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

The State accused the duo of enlisting the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender after terminating services of other existing companies.

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Pfumbidzai and Chikumba also inflated aviation insurance premiums payments made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited and Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited, both United Kingdom-based companies.

The firm released €15 452,93 to Navistar, €10 607 859,22 to the two British companies, while they pocketed €5 895 695,49.


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