The High Court has thrown out an urgent application filed by a Harare woman to recover four luxury vehicles taken custody of by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) following the arrest of her lover on fraud charges.
The court said there was no urgency in the application and she can join the ordinary queue.
Ms Charlotte Chavavarirwa is a girlfriend of former NetOne employee Daniel Kalira, who is facing charges of theft involving $150 million worth of airtime from his employer.
Following Kalira’s arrest, ZACC took custody of his three expensive Mercedes Benz vehicles and one Toyota Hilux on suspicion they were bought using proceeds of crime; they can be returned if he is acquitted or if charges are dropped, but meanwhile he cannot use them or sell them.
Ms Chavavarirwa, who claimed to have been adversely affected by the seizure order, approached the High Court seeking to recover use of the vehicles, which she said belonged to her.
In her application, she argued that she was inconvenienced by the effects of the seizure and needed the vehicles for her business operations and the school-run for her children.
She was forced to be a pedestrian because of the seizure of the vehicles.
But ZACC opposed the application and sought its dismissal on the basis that it was not urgent and that she failed to establish the irreparable harm affecting her following the seizure of the vehicles.
In his ruling against the urgent application, Justice Neville Munyaniso Wamambo, noted that the matter did not qualify to be treated as urgent and removed it from the roll.
“I find that applicant being rendered a pedestrian is not irredeemable harm. She can seek alternative transport in the meanwhile,” said the judge.
Urgent applications over use of property or assets are designed to prevent any harm that cannot be reversed while the longer legal processes are being played out.
The court also noted that it was improbable that damage could occur on the vehicles while in the custody of a Government entity, and the risk was too low to warrant the court to release them.
“I am mindful that there are rules, regulations and procedures aimed at preserving property lawfully seized,” said Justice Wamambo.
“The same would apply to the issue of compensation. In any case, nothing can stop applicant from suing the relevant government entity if damage is visited upon the vehicles.”
ZACC investigations established that Kalira allegedly stole from NetOne through an airtime voucher scam committed over a period of two years.
He was arrested after anxious colleagues tipped off ZACC after noticing that his lifestyle that suddenly improved tremendously.