Mathew Masinge, Court Reporter
A High Court judge has ordered the release of six suspected foreign currency dealers alleged to have used the EcoCash platform to buy over US$5 billion from the black market.
The six comprise of Simbarashe Charamba, Felix Chikuse, Vimbai Charamba, Rudo Charamba, Shumirai Charamba and Georgina Kabanda.
They were charged for contravening the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act and the Exchange Control Act through dealings allegedly conducted by their supermarkets, Family First Choice and Bailey Charamba Investments.
The six were arrested in Mutare sometime in November before they were denied bail by a Harare magistrate.
The State had also obtained a certificate to further detain the six suspects outside their judicial authority for 21 days, which was then challenged at the High Court.
In his ruling, Justice Happious Zhou said the continued detention was illegal.
“In the result, it is ordered that; the continued incarceration pending trial of Simbarashe Charamba, Felix Chikuse, Vimbai Charamba, Rudo Charamba, Shumirai Charamba and Georgina Kabanda is illegal.
“The NPA shall cause and ensure the release of the petitioners referred to in, including liasing with the police and the authorities where they are detained in order to ensure their release,” reads the judge’s finding.
The judge said the new Constitution calls for a new order.
“But the constitution terrain has changed with the advent of the current Constitution which represents a new constitutional order, one which is underpinned by the model of separation of powers which the citizens chose for themselves when they adopted the Constitution in 2013,” he said.
The State alleges that, sometime in January to June this year, Simbarashe connived with the other accused persons to transfer funds to 40 EcoCash agent lines directing them to buy foreign currency on the black market.
The money was distributed to 11 Family First Choice supermarket employees who transacted under the guise of Bailey Investments.
The State had opposed bail on the basis that the accused persons had conducted their business informally and were likely to abscond as they were facing a serious offence which would attract a jail term.