HIGHER and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo has written to Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri requesting him to investigate the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), which he accuses of using stolen documents to nail him in a corruption probe.
In a letter to Chihuri, the ZANU-PF Politburo member claims he was given a directive by Cabinet to seek police intervention in the matter.
"On Tuesday 20 December 2016, Cabinet directed that I bring to your attention suspected criminal use by The Sunday Mail on 18 December 2016, government documents stolen from our ministry's offices. You will recall that on 6/7 August 2016, nine offices at the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development were broken into and ransacked. Official documents and four laptop computers belonging to directors were stolen," reads part of the letter.
"The affected offices included those of the minister, permanent secretary on the sixth floor and seven directors. The matter was reported to the ZRP," he added.
Moyo then argued that the alleged stolen documents were handed over to the State-run weekly by ZACC in violation of the law.
"In the story headlined 'ZACC digs in on Prof Moyo' published on 18 December, (2016), The Sunday Mail alleged that ZACC is investigating a new case allegedly linking Professor Moyo and government officials to suspicious transactions involving US$6,4 million. The paper further claimed that documents showed that investigations into the latest case began last week after ZACC stumbled upon a number of suspicious transactions.
"It turns out from some of the examples of transactions cited in The Sunday Mail story that the documents which the paper claims to have seen and which ZACC is alleged to have stumbled upon leading to the start of a new investigation are among the documents that were stolen from the ministry when its offices were broken into on 6/7 August 2016. This revelation is the reason for this complaint which is being brought to your attention on the directive of Cabinet," he further writes.
Moyo also wants police to probe ZACC's alleged "criminal correspondence" with other third parties "in a manner similar to ZACC's unlawful engagement with The Sunday Mail".
"In one case last September, protected and confidential documents were illegally given by ZACC to a person not authorised to receive such documents. The ministry has evidence of this case and we believe a crime was committed," he writes, without naming the person involved. The letter, which was printed on a government letterhead and bears his official trademark signature, was copied to Home Affairs Minister, Ignatius Chombo, who could not be reached to confirm its reception.
Using illegally obtained evidence to investigate a suspect or bring them to trial is prohibited under section 258 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act unless the State has "admitted it illegally obtained evidence and prove that it does not prejudice the right of an accused person to pursue a civil remedy for any breach of the law in consequence of which the evidence was obtained".
Section 258 (A), which regulates admissibility or inadmissibility of illegally obtained evidence, states that:
(I) In determining, whether to exclude evidence that has been obtained in a manner that violates any provision of the Constitution, the court shall endeavour to strike a proper balance between;
(i) the rights of the accused concerned; and
(ii) the integrity of the criminal justice system against serious or persistent breaches of the Law by the police or other employees of the State; and
(b) the public interest in-
(i) doing justice to the victim or victims of the crime in question.
The piece of legislation is a creation of section 70 (3) of the Constitution which reads: "In any criminal trial, evidence that has been obtained in a manner that violates any provision of this chapter (chapter four of the Constitution) must be excluded if the admission of evidence would render the trial unfair or would otherwise be detrimental to the administration of justice or the public interest."
ZACC was still to respond to enquiries from the Financial Gazette at the time of going to print.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Moyo confirmed writing to the police.
"I can confirm that I reported the matter to the authorities on 20 December 2016 following an article in The Sunday Mail on 18 December which said: 'ZACC had stumbled on documents' among which we realised were some we knew had gone missing along with laptops after nine offices in our fifth and sixth floors had been broken into on 6/7 August 2016.
"The claim that ZACC 'had stumbled' on the documents was shocking in light of what we knew about the unprecedented break in at (the) Ministry and the fact that laptops and documents had been stolen on the day some of which were mentioned in The Sunday Mail story of 18 December 2016," said Moyo.
National police spokesperson, Charity Charamba, requested questions to be sent to her via the short message service (SMS) saying she could not take calls on her mobile phone as she was attending a meeting.
She, however, did not respond to the SMSs despite persistent follow ups.
Her deputy, Paul Nyathi, said he was not at work and therefore could not assist with any information.
ZACC is pursuing Moyo and his deputy, Godfrey Gandawa, on allegations of abusing funds under the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund.
They both deny the allegations, saying they never used the money for personal benefit as alleged by ZACC but instead they used it to fund ZANU-PF activities, while some was donated to charity.
Moyo told Parliament on Tuesday that as part of its investigation, ZACC was breaking the law by using documents that were stolen from his ministry's offices in August last year. Moyo and Gandawa were giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.