HARARE mayor Hebert Gomba will continue languishing in remand prison after he was Friday denied bail by a senior Regional magistrate Bianca Makwande.
Gomba landed in the dock on allegations involving land scams and abuse of office as a public officer.
He is accused of involvement in the illegal creation and sale of stands, with irregularities in the approval and altering of plans against the Environmental Management Agency regulations.
He is among top council officials arrested over the past few weeks in connection with a land scam that has so far led to the arrest of acting human resources director Retired Major Matthew Marara and principal housing director Edgar Dzehonye.
In denying him bail, Makwande ruled that Gomba was facing a serious offence and was likely to face a custodial sentence if convicted, which may force him to flee the court’s jurisdiction if granted bail.
While challenging bail, the state called the Investigating Officer (IO) Superintendent Joseph Siriwindi who said Gomba could not be released on bail because he is a high profile person with connections locally and abroad.
“It is state’s fear that once he is released, he will not ridicule himself to prison life he is facing and will run away.
“The accused abused his powers by giving himself executive duties in order to favour a particular housing cooperative.
“He is a top guy and can easily influence witnesses or alter evidence if he is allowed to go out,” he said.
The magistrate went with the state’s contention adding that the possibility of the mayor interfering with his case could not be ruled out.
Gomba’s lawyers, Lovemore Madhuku and Harrison Nkomo said the state’s claims were unfounded.
“The state says he has connections outside but we have not been told where and with who exactly. They are basing on speculation,” Madhuku said.
The lawyer further said his client was from humble beginnings and only rose to prominence through hard work and as such, he had no solid reasons to flee trial.
He also submitted that Gomba was a family man who ran a mining and milling business which he could not easily abandon.
Madhuku said the state failed to recognise that the world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and countries have set travel restrictions for foreigners, something which would make it near impossible for Gomba to skip the country.
The lawyers said they will appeal against the ruling at the High Court.
Jonathan Murombedzi and Michael Reza prosecuted. – Newzim