Telecel application denied

The High Court has thrown out a review application from Telecel after the company lost a previous court battle with the Attorney General who it accused of dropping charges against business tycoon Jane Mutasa, arrested in March for swindling $750,000 worth of airtime.

Mutasa was cleared together with her PA, Caroline Gwinyai, Telecel's regional sales manager Charles Mapurisa and commercial director, Naquib Omar, after Johannes Tomana flatly refused Telecel permission to pursue a private prosecution against Mutasa.

Mutasa is an outspoken businesswomen and senior member of Zanu (PF). She heads the indigenous businesswomen's organisation.

In a letter dated April 23, 2011 sent to Telecel's lawyers, Tomana said: "Kindly note that I have read the witnesses' statements in the police docket and have satisfied myself that the evidence therein does not establish a criminal offence against the four suspects.”

Telecel's lawyers approached the High Court, arguing that Tomana misdirected himself when he withdrew charges against the four. However, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo dismissed the review application saying that a private company could not institute a private prosecution.

The alleged swindle came to light in September last year when Telecel ordered an audit which found that mobile phone sim cards and recharge cards worth $1,7 million were unaccounted for.

Investigations revealed a loophole which the company alleged had been used by Mutasa's company, Oxygon Investments, to spirit away sim-cards and airtime worth $750,000 with no intention of paying.

Telecel said Mapurisa and Omar deliberately ignored a July 15, 2010 directive to cease all use of manual invoicing and log all sales in an electronic database.

The duo allegedly connived to release 30,000 sim cards, also known as seed packs, valued at $300,000 and airtime recharge cards worth $450,000 to Mutasa's company using an invoice book which cannot be found.

The goods were delivered to Oxygon and received by Mutasa's PA, Gwinyai. Telecel Zimbabwe is currently 60 percent owned by Telecel Globe, Orascom's sub-Saharan African unit, and 40 percent owned by Zimbabwe's Empowerment Corporation, a consortium of local shareholders.

Mutasa says she is being targeted in a bid to stop her from snapping up the 11 percent stake in Telecel which is up for grabs as the company moves to comply with indigenisation laws.

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