Harare magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe yesterday ordered the immediate release of Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni after it emerged that he had been detained beyond the legal limit.
Manyenyeni is facing criminal abuse of office and corruptly concealing personal interest in a transaction and was taken to court after 48 hours.
Magistrate Chikwekwe refused to place Manyenyeni on further remand.
In his ruling, Mr Chikwekwe said Section 50 of the Constitution was straight forward on over-detention.
“It is clear that officers from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) were tracking Manyenyeni when he was in court,” said Mr Chikwekwe.
“ZACC chief investigation officer Mr Saviours Kufandada confirmed that one of their officers was sitting next to Manyenyeni in court,” he said.
“There were discrepancies by the State on what time Manyenyeni was arrested, surely one person or the others are lying.
“When Manyenyeni was taken by ZACC officers I would not term that an invitation because there was no need to escort him in his own vehicle.”
Mr Chikwekwe said if there were no sinister intentions to arrest him ZACC would have invited him by just a phone call.
“Kufandada said his colleague texted him saying, “tatotora (we have taken)” at 11:17am and this means Manyenyeni was in their custody,” he said.
“Section 41 (c) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act is an obligation to the police and ZACC officers to comply with the new amendment.
“Manyenyeni was brought to court outside 48 hours and no warrant of further detention was applied for, he should be released immediately,” he said.
Challenging placement on remand, Manyenyeni’s lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku said his client was arrested at 10:25am and 48 hours elapsed before he was brought to court.
“The arrest was caused by people who want to disable the mayor from working. A ridiculous bail condition stating that he was not allowed to visit any City of Harare offices was imposed.
This whole thing is about preventing the mayor from going to work,” said Prof Madhuku.
He then called Manyenyeni to the witness stand to testify that he was arrested outside the High Court at 10:25am.
“I was bundled in my own car and everything I asked the answer was no, no, no,” said Manyenyeni.
“I was escorted by many cars and the effect of arrest was unmistakable.”
Prosecuting, Mr Michael Reza insisted that Manyenyeni was arrested at 14:30pm and that ZACC officers merely invited him to their offices.
Testifying as a State witness, Kufandada said the message, “tatotora” from his colleague meant their target (Manyenyeni) was on the move.
Charges are that between December 2015 and March 2016, Manyenyeni entered into a verbal agreement with Distinctive Consultancy Services and High Post Consultancy for provision of short listing, selection and screening services.
He also entered into verbal agreement with Ernst & Young for provision of psychometric tests on behalf of the City of Harare.
Manyenyeni allegedly caused the City of Harare to pay for the services without advertising or calling for quotations from prospective service providers. Distinctive and High Post Consultants were offered $3 500 and $2 500 respectively.
This, it is alleged, was despite the fact that the two human resources consultancy firms provide similar services.
It was alleged that the only difference was that Distinctive Consultancy had nominated Manyenyeni’s preferred candidate, Mr James Mushore, for the post of Harare town clerk. It was alleged that Manyenyeni influenced the shortlisting, screening and selection process.
Out of the 15 shortlisted names by Distinctive and 16 by High Post Consultants, Manyenyeni made sure that Mushore was in the final list. It was alleged six people were common to both consultancy companies and realising that Mushore would not make it, Manyenyeni added another six people, including Mushore’s name.
The 12 names were allegedly handed over to Ernst & Young for psychometric tests without council resolution.
On the second count, Manyenyeni allegedly offered recruitment services for town clerk to Patrick Chingoka of High Post Consultancy.
It was alleged Manyenyeni entered into the contract without disclosing to council any financial or personal relations he had with Chingoka.