The late former President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore has been acquitted at the Harare Magistrate’s Court after a High Court judge threw away the lower court’s verdict to dismiss his application for discharge at the close of the State’s case.
Chikore, who was ZimAirways chief executive at the time, was accused of unlawful detention of former ZimAirways legal head Bertha Zakeyo after she had been dismissed from work.
Chikore is husband to the late President’s daughter, Bona and was charged together with a Safeguard security member Simbarashe Mutimbe.
The pair’s application for discharge at the close of the State’s case was dismissed by magistrate Victoria Mashamba, saying the State failed to prove a prima facie case against them.
Mashamba dismissed the application and ruled that the pair be put to their defence to answer to questions on why the gate was closed when the complainant wanted to leave. She further ruled that the case was centred on issues of freedom and after hearing both submissions from the State and defence, the evidence tendered proved a prima facie.
However, the duo went to the High Court challenging the dismissal of their application, but Justice Happias Zhou ruled that the magistrate erred in dismissing their application.
Justice Zhou ruled that the complainant was not constrained to remain on the premises as she was told to read, sign the letter and leave the employer’s premises.
“The fact that the complainant set conditions for leaving the premises does not in any way constitute her presence at the premises (as) a deprivation of freedom of bodily movement. Apart from which the condition she said was itself unlawful in the sense that she unilaterally decided to change the basis of her possession of the employer’s property,” he ruled.
“A cellphone which she had been given for use during the course of her employment, her excuse for remaining at the premises was motivated by malicious intent to create a criminal cause, she voluntarily remained at the premises.”
Mashamba then confirmed the High Court order to acquit him, while Chikore’s accomplice will remain on remand waiting for the High Court order after filing the application last week.
George Manokore appeared for the State.