CONTROVERSIAL businessman Delish Nguwaya was yesterday removed from remand and the State will proceed by way of summons after the State failed to provide a trial date.
Magistrate Ngoni Nduna rebuked the prosecution for its languid approach to the case, which he said was a cause for concern which the court could not ignore.
He noted that Nguwaya had been remanded 10 times before yesterday, when the State again failed to provide a trial date.
Nduna also added that in opposing refusal of further remand, the State submitted generalised claims and shifted the blame to COVID-19, which showed it was not interested in defending its case.
He made the ruling after Nguwaya accused State prosecutors of siding with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s political detractors by delaying commencement of his trial on fraud charges.
Nguwaya is being accused of misrepresenting that his company Drax International also known as Drax Consult SAGL, was a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland in a bid to be awarded tenders for COVID-19 supplies to the Health ministry.
Nguwaya, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya, also denied links with the First Family when he appeared before Nduna, arguing that he was just a businessman and there was no justification for him to be vilified based on the accusations.
He applied to be removed from remand arguing that Mnangagwa’s political enemies were using Nguwaya’s fraud case to soil his (Mnangagwa) name which could be cleared by his trial. He said the State had “applied brakes” on the progress on the case.
Nguwaya was challenging an application by the State to postpone the matter to January 29, 2021 and he told the court that he was ready and eager to stand trial but the State was postponing the trial on “unreasonable” grounds.
The State led by prosecutor Charles Muchemwa applied for a further remand arguing that there were some mutual legal assistance that had to be conducted as part of the investigations in the matter. He added that the COVID-19 induced travel restrictions had derailed the extra-territorial investigations.
Muchemwa also said the matter was complex and the delays in commencing trial were not deliberate because more time was needed to complete investigations.
But Rubaya argued that all the issues which formed the basis of Nguwaya’s case were in the proximity of the State and there is no basis to postpone the matter on extra-territorial investigations claims.
“The accused asserts that the moment this matter is postponed to another date, the political opponents of the current government will start to conduct themselves in a manner which is detrimental to its political narrative,” Rubaya said.
He told the court there was social media conspiracy that Nguwaya and his company, Drax were linked to the First Family, claims which however could be proved wrong and by the full trial, which could also clear his (Mnangagwa) name since proceedings would be conducted in an open court.
He said: “It is not reasonable, with respect Your Worship, that the State continues to dilly-dally while the accused remains on remand as if their intention is to benefit the political opponents of the President.
“When the accused was arrested in June, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing and the investigating officer indicated on State papers that investigations would be complete by July 2020, but it is now six months down the line.” ■