Nyore Madzianike

Senior Court Reporter

Former Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo was yesterday granted bail by a Harare magistrate in a case in which he is accused of corruptly allocating land in Harare and Zvimba.

Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje granted the bail on the same conditions already imposed by the High Court for a set of previous corruption-related charges.

Chombo’s lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku told the court that Chombo was in poor health and required medical attention.

Chombo is facing allegations of illegally parcelling out stands in Harare and Zvimba while he was Local Government minister between 2000 and 2015.

The former minister was granted bail of $5 000 coupled with reporting conditions for the new charges of fraud and criminal abuse of office he now faces.

He must surrender the title deeds to his Marlborough house as surety.

Mr Mambanje noted in his bail ruling that Chombo had made nine trips to South Africa for medical attention since his original arrest in 2017.

“Those medical trips speak volumes of the dire need for medical attention. Condemning him to no medical attention will, considering his age, be his demise. This court has a human face.

“While in South Africa, he had an opportunity to abscond but he returned on his own. The accused’s response during his releases is clear for all to see. This will be an assurance that he will be ready to stand trial.”

In justifying the bail, Mr Mambanje said Chombo was unlikely to interfere with investigations and was no longer a Cabinet minister.

The court said that the investigating officer in the matter revealed that he had not probed the matter as recommended by the Justice Uchena-led Commission, leaving the State with no cogent reasons to oppose his bail.

Mr Mambanje remanded Chombo to March 12.

Mr Charles Muchemwa and Mr Ephraim Zinyandu, appearing for the State, had opposed the granting of bail.

In his bail application, Chombo had told the court that the Ignatius Chombo Housing Cooperative that he allegedly used to fleece homeseekers, did not exist.

He also denied owning the companies that the State alleges were allocated stands on State land.

Chombo told the court that he never instructed officials at the Ministry of Local Government to sign any title deed as the State alleges, saying such signing was done as a result of a court order.

He said issues surrounding the Odar Farm were dealt with at the Constitutional Court while the Supreme Court made an order on Stoneridge Farm.

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