HARARE – Telecel Zimbabwe (Private) Limited has approached the Supreme Court contesting a High Court decision to dismiss the firm’s bid to privately prosecute former chairperson Jane Mutasa.
Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana declined to prosecute Mutasa and three others on allegations of defrauding the mobile phone service provider of $1,7 million in an airtime scam.
Her alleged accomplices are Charles Mapurisa, Caroline Gwinyai and Naquib Omar.
Following the development, Telecel applied to the High Court for a certificate from the AG to institute private prosecution against Mutasa and her co-accused, but the State declined arguing that the four had no case to answer.
Isiah Mureriwa who appeared on behalf of Telecel on Monday told the court that the AG had declined to prosecute the quartet despite the fact that during a bail application by Mutasa and her colleagues, the State’s grounds of opposing the four’s freedom was that there was overwhelming evidence against them.
“To suddenly turn around and say there is no evidence is grossly irrational. The AG has blocked the prosecution of the accused. This is what we are saying is unreasonable. We are dealing with a substantial loss of $1,7 million,” Mureriwa said.
Mureriwa told the court that the then High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo, who has since joined the Constitutional Court bench, erred when he dismissed the application, arguing there is no reason to deny a company a right to seek private prosecution.
Chris Mutangadura, from the AG’s office, said that Telecel had no locus standi at law to bring an application for private prosecution.
“A company cannot do a private prosecution. The history of private prosecution was only granted to a living human being. It’s only a human being who can institute private prosecution,” Mutangadura said.
Judges Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe and Bharat Patel reserved their ruling yesterday.
Charges against the four arose between August and October 2009, wherein Mutasa allegedly instructed Omar to request stock from Telecel stores on behalf of her personal firm Oxygon Investments, to the prejudice of the mobile company.
The alleged swindle came to light in September 2010 when Telecel ordered an audit which found that mobile phone sim-cards and recharge cards worth $1,7 million were unaccounted for.
Investigations revealed a loophole which the company alleged had been used by Mutasa’s company, Oxygon Investments, to spirit away sim-cards and airtime worth $750 000 with no intention to pay.
Telecel said Mapurisa and Omar deliberately ignored a July 15, 2010 directive to cease all use of manual invoicing and log all sales into an electronic database.
The duo allegedly connived to release 30 000 sim cards, also known as seed packs, valued at $300 000 and airtime recharge cards worth $450 000 to Mutasa’s company using an invoice book which could not be found.
The goods were delivered to Oxygon and received by Mutasa’s PA, Gwinyai.
Telecel Zimbabwe is ?currently 60 percent owned by Telecel Globe, Orascom’s sub-Saharan African unit, and 40 percent owned by Zimbabwe’s Empowerment Corporation, a consortium of local shareholders.
Mutasa says she is being targeted in a bid to stop her from snapping up 11 percent stake in Telecel which is up for grabs as the company moves to comply with indigenisation laws.