A SENIOR prison officer based at the Khami Maximum Prison and a lawyer were yesterday locked up in the remand prison after being denied bail following accusations they had allegedly connived to produce a fraudulent warrant of liberation for a serving convict at Khami Maximum Prison in Bulawayo.
Absolom Hlupo, a principal prison officer at Khami and Tungamirai Nyengera of Shenje Legal Practitioners, who were arrested on December 24, filed their application for bail through their lawyers before Bulawayo senior magistrate Sibongile Msipa on Monday.
Hlupo was represented by Nozipho Dube, while Nyengera was represented by Mlamuli Ncube.
The two, who are denying the charge, indicated that they were not a flight risk and were family men.
Hlupo said he had been in the prison service for 19 years and since he was pleading not guilty he would not skip bail as he wanted to see the conclusion of the case.
The two accused said they were prepared to report to the Criminal Investigations Department in Bulawayo once a week until their case was finalised.
The State opposed their bail application, stating that there were attempts by both of them to flee from the arresting officers and the crime they were charged with was serious, arguing if they were granted bail, the public would lose confidence in the country’s justice system.
In her ruling, Msipa said the two were charged with a serious crime of fraud, while Nyengera also faced another charge of defeating the course of justice, in which he is appearing separately and Hlupo faces another charge of abuse of office as a public officer.
“It is very clear that the allegations that the two are facing are very serious,” she said. “The court has taken judicial notice that the warrant of liberation is issued by a clerk of court as it seems like it’s a syndicate type of crime.”
Msipa said their behaviour had tarnished the judicial system and the public would lose faith in it.
“If convicted prisoners are to be released in such an unprofessional and illegal way, justice must not only be done, but should be seen to be done so that the public has confidence in the judicial system,” she ruled.
“In the circumstances, the application for bail for the two accused persons is hereby dismissed and they are remanded in custody to January 13 2015.”
The court heard that on December 23 Hlupo went to Nyengera’s office in the city and they allegedly connived to facilitate the release of a convicted serving prisoner Lungisani Sibanda through illegal means by producing a fraudulent warrant of liberation.
It is the State’s case that Nyengera handed out a completed warrant of liberation, serial number 2578J to Hlupo. Hlupo took the fraudulent warrant of liberation to Khami Maximum Prison, where he tendered it to the officer-in-charge Superintendent Joe Matyavira, who was to process the warrant of liberation.
However, Matyavira discovered that it was a fraudulent document, leading to the two’s arrest.