HARARE – Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana faces contempt of court charges that can lead to a jail-term or fine for allegedly defying a court order directing his office to issue a certificate for the private prosecution of Telecel Zimbabwe (Private) Limited shareholder, Jane Mutasa. Mutasa is accused of swindling the company of more than US$1,7 million of airtime recharge vouchers.
Telecel lawyer Mr Isaiah Mureriwa wrote to the PG’s lawyers Mambosasa Legal Practitioners asking them to advise their client to act on the Constitutional Court ruling in favour of the mobile phone operator.
He threatened to press contempt of court charges against Mr Tomana and his office for defying the court. But the Prosecutor-General’s lawyer Mr Alex Mambosasa said his client was still waiting for reasons of the Constitutional Court’s decision for him to take appropriate action on the matter.
The Constitutional Court last month upheld a Supreme Court decision that gave Telecel the green light to privately prosecute Mutasa. The PG’s office was given a five-day ultimatum to issue the certificate.
In his letter to the PG’s lawyers, Mr Mureriwa expressed indignation at the conduct of the PG’s office, which he claimed was not forthcoming with a response to his client’s request.
“We are disturbed and appalled that to this date we have still not received either a certificate of nolle prosequi (private prosecution) as requested or response to our demand,” said Mr Mureriwa in a letter dated October 23, 2014.
He said his client was left with no option, but to consider instituting contempt of court proceedings against the PG for ignoring a Constitutional Court Order.
Such a move, said Mr Mureriwa, could be prevented to safeguard the integrity of the PG’s office and person as well as that of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary system as a whole. “Kindly advise your client accordingly in order to avoid unnecessary embarrassment that will be caused if we institute contempt proceedings,” he said.
“We will not write to you on this again except through court process for contempt of court, if it becomes necessary.”
Mr Mambosasa said his client should be allowed to study the court ruling first for him to make an informed decision.
“We refer to previous correspondence and advise that client (Mr Tomana) awaits for judgment in order to do the needful,” said Mr Mambosasa adding, “Your forbearance whilst we wait for the written judgment will be greatly appreciated.”
After losing the case on appeal at the Supreme Court earlier this year, the PG’s office approached the Constitutional Court in a bid to reverse the appeals court’s decision.
But a full bench of the highest court in the land led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku unanimously agreed to throw out the case, without giving the reasons for the judgment. The ruling, however, sealed the fate for Mutasa, who is now set to face the trial.
Mutasa was arrested in 2010 along with the company’s commercial director, Naguib Omar, for allegedly stealing airtime vouchers worth US$1,7 million.
The PG’s office declined to issue a certificate for private prosecution arguing that investigations had established that no offence had been committed.