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Mafume skips court amid COVID-19 fears

Embattled Harare Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume has skipped his routine court appearance on Monday as he is is self isolations after three former cellmates from Remand prison succumbed to Covid-19, a court heard on Monday.

Mafume was not in court for his routine remand. His lawyer Tendai Biti told magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti that Mafume had been advised by his doctor to self-quarantine following his release on bail last Friday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) intended to apply for the revocation of Mafume’s bail granted by the High Court following his arrest on allegations of leaning on City of Harare officials to corruptly award housing stands to his sister and his personal assistant. He denies the allegations.

“You are aware from previous hearings we requested that he be examined by medical doctors. On January 15, the High Court granted his bail appeal against magistrate Ngoni Nduna’s judgement denying him bail,” Biti explained.

“The doctor has ordered that the accused be placed in quarantine consistent with Covid-19 regulations. The accused was exposed to persons with Covid-19 in Remand Prison”.

“Three people he was sharing a cell with succumbed to Covid-19”, Biti added.

Prosecutor Charles Muchemwa did not oppose Mafume’s application and requested that he be brought to court on February 23 next month.

Muchemwa admitted that many people on remand are being remanded in absentia because of Covid-19.

Mafume was first arrested on the corruption allegations in November. Denied bail by a magistrate, he finally secured his freedom at the High Court.

On December 14, he was re-arrested accused of attempting to bribe a witness. He was denied bail once more by a lower court, but was freed last Friday on appeal at the High Court.

The NPA wants his original bail revoked on the basis that he interfered with witnesses, the basis of the second charge, but that has now been put on ice at least until February.

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