A court in Zimbabwe has denied bail to the government’s top epidemiologist, who had been arrested on allegations of misusing COVID-19 relief funds.

Portia Mnangazira stands accused of hiring 28 members of her extended family as health workers, and of using nearly  K213 million kwacha worth of emergency funds without following proper procedures.

As the country’s director of epidemiology and disease control, Manangazira is a well-known name, especially during typhoid and cholera outbreaks and now coronavirus.

Now she’s in custody, facing charges of criminal abuse of duty.

On Tuesday, the court heard that her father was among 28 relatives hired to carry out COVID-19 awareness campaigns last year.

Manangazira was denied bail after prosecutors claimed she could interfere with witnesses.

This arrest comes eight months after that of the former health minister Obadiah Moyo, after he allegedly awarded a contract for COVID-19 medical supplies at inflated prices.

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