Henry Mugove Muringani, the chief public counsel for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), was sentenced to 12 years in prison for preparing and enabling the filing of false bail applications for armed bandits, which led to their release by the courts.
When Muringani stood before Harare regional judge Mrs. Marehwanazvo Gofa, he was originally sentenced to five years in prison for each of the four counts of illegal abuse of office allegations he was up against.
Mrs. Gofa postponed eight years of the 20-year total sentence for a period of five years, provided that he refrain from committing any crimes involving dishonesty.
Even though Muringani had expressed sorrow for perpetrating the crime, according to Mrs. Gofa, his moral blameworthiness was still very high.
Mrs Gofa, in sentencing Muringani, also indicated that he turned a deaf ear to the Government’s call to combat corruption at all levels, which called for a deterrent punishment.
She said Muringani was not supposed to offer private services to inmates while he was serving the Government as a prosecutor.
In December 2021, detectives from CID Homicide arrested suspected armed robber Tawanda Mutengo, who had been on the run for a long time.
Upon arrest, Mutengo was found in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Mutengo was then taken to court the following day where he was advised to apply for bail at the High Court.
On January 17, 2022, Mutengo applied for bail at the High Court and his application was dismissed.
Mutengo heard that there was someone from the NPA who was assisting suspects facing armed robbery and other serious crimes to get bail while in remand prison.
Another case on CRB 12196/21 relating to an armed robbery charge was not captured on the bail release order, resulting in him failing to be released from prison.
Muringani then facilitated another bail application using CRB 12196/21 while using rape charges.
Eliah Tatenda Murenzvi, Mutengo’s uncle, met Muringani as per agreement and upon discussion, the latter said he could apply for Mutengo’s bail.
He demanded US$500 as payment for his service and was paid in instalments of US$20, US$380 and US$100.
On February 6, 2022, Muringani called Murenzvi whom he gave a set of papers to pass on to Mutengo for his bail application.
However, the papers were defective as they bore a wrong charge of attempted murder instead of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition offence.
After two days and at High Court, Mutengo applied for bail as a self-actor using the papers prepared by Muringani.
He was granted $55 000 bail.
Upon being granted bail, Mutengo was not released by Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), as one of his CRB 12196/21 relating to an offence of armed robbery was not dealt with by the court.
When Mutengo failed to be released, on February 17, 2022, Muringani further prepared some papers for a bail application for armed robbery, but Muringani substituted the offence with one of rape.
He was paid US$2 000 by Murenzvi and on February 23, 2022, Mutengo appeared in the High Court applying for bail using the papers and he was granted bail in the sum of $10 000.
Detectives got information of the shenanigans and arrested Muringani.
The police recovered two cellphones and a laptop believed to have been used to commit the offence.
Detectives also arrested Vincent Kondo, Bill Tirihama, Edwin Muchagwa and Prosper Chidaushe on armed robbery charges.
They appeared at Mbare and Harare Magistrates Courts and were all advised to approach the High Court for bail applications.
They then made separate bail applications at the High Court through their legal practitioners and their applications were dismissed.
But while the four were in remand prison, they heard that Muringani was assisting those remanded in custody to get bail.
Some of the inmates gave their relatives Muringani’s phone numbers so that they could contact him for assistance.
Muringani demanded US$1 000 from Vincent Kondo and US$500 each from Bill Tirihama, Edwin Muchagwa and Prosper Chidaushe.
Kondo’s mother found US$300 which she gave Muringani and was assured that her son would get bail.
Tirihama’s wife paid US$200 for the services, Muchagwa’s wife paid US$300 while Chidaushe’s brother-in-law personally approached Muringani for assistance since they knew each other.
Muringani phoned the four’s relatives to meet him at Whitehouse in Harare to collect papers which were to be used for bail application.
He changed the charges from armed robbery to rape and attempted murder charges.
The four appeared as self-actors at the High Court in Harare using the papers prepared by Muringani.
The matters were deferred and upon investigations, it was established that the new charges were false.