Satellite lands businessmen in court

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean businessmen are being charged over satellite equipment allegedly installed without permission.

The three directors of Zimbabwean IAP, Africom, will face trial on charges of flouting the Post and Telecommunications Act for allegedly installing satellite equipment with without permission from the regulator.

This comes after the State withdrew espionage charges before plea against the trio who were accused of selling state secrets to enemies of the State.

Harare provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi remanded the three - Farai Rwodzi, Simba Mangwende and Oliver Chiku - to January 18 next year for trial under the Act, which criminalises the possession of or operating a communication network without permission from the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.

The three were first arrested on October 28.

While the State dropped the espionage charge before plea, it can still proceed by way of summons, but the three businessmen appear to be out of the woods, as espionage is deemed a serious offence which falls under Section 3c (ii) of the Official Secrets Act. If convicted, one faces a maximum sentence of 25 years.

According to the State case, Chiku invited representatives of Canadian firm called Juch Tech to Zimbabwe and organised a meeting with Rwodzi and discussed the installation of satellite dishes and other VOIP capable equipment.

The two allegedly agreed and Rwodzi referred Chiku and Juch Tech representatives to Mangwende who then instructed Africom engineers to install the equipment brought in by Chiku and the Canadians.

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