Prosper Dembedza,Court Correspondent
High Court Judge Justice Musitu has granted former Zinara finance director Simon Mudzingwa Taranhike, who was recently jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of criminal abuse of office, $2 000 bail.
Taranhike abused the Zinara fuel facility and authorised the issuance of 1 800 litres of petrol (Redan Puma) coupons to ZBC journalist Davison Vandira without following due procedures, prejudicing his employer of fuel then worth $6 354.
Taranhike, through his lawyer Mrs Rekayi Maphosa, had appealed against conviction and sentence, arguing that he was improperly convicted.
In the appeal, Mrs Maphosa argued that the State failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt as required by the law.
She said the essential elements of criminal abuse of duty were not satisfied by the State.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya initially sentenced Taranhike to 30 months in prison before suspending six months on condition of good behaviour.
Another nine months were suspended on condition that Taranhike pays back the 1 800 litres of fuel to Zinara before December 31 this year.
In passing sentence, Mr Mujaya said he took into consideration that Taranhike was a first offender and a family man.
At the time, Mr Mujaya said, it was true that Taranhike did not directly benefit from the commission of the offence.
He further stated that Taranhike lost his job as a result of the offence.
Mr Mujaya said the court could not turn a blind eye on corrupt activities and should pass an exemplary sentence.
In mitigation, his other lawyer Ms Purity Chikangaise said her client was a first offender and a father of three.
Ms Chikangaise told the court that Taranhike was a hypertension patient who takes medication three times a day.
She asked for leniency, saying a custodial sentence would be too harsh for a first offender.
“The court should consider a fine in this matter because indeed it is a fine-able offence, especially putting all the circumstances of the case in total,” she said.
Asked by Mr Mujaya whether it was appropriate to consider restitution as part of the sentence, Ms Chikangaise agreed, saying her client was in a position to restitute the fuel coupons if need be.
In aggravation, prosecutor Ms Netsai Mushayabasa said corruption has become rampant in the country and the court should consider stern measures to send a message to would-be offenders.
Ms Mushayabasa said a fine or community service would trivialise the offence.