Tanzania: Defence Now Blames Prosecution for Failing to Finish Investigation

THE defence yesterday were up in arms over the prosecution's failure to complete on time investigation into the case of two government diamond valuers Archard Kalugendo (49) and Edward Rweyemamu (50), who are charged with occasioning a 2.5bn/- loss to the government.

Defence counsel Nehemia Nkoko told Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri at the Kisutu Resident Magistrates' Court in Dar es Salaam that a year had passed since the arraignment of his clients and no progress had so far been made as far as investigation was concerned.

"This is a simple case, your honour, as the accused are charged with one count only of occasioning the loss. We have witnessed complicated cases with over 400 counts, but investigation was completed on time. What is happening in this case," he queried.

He asked the court to compel the prosecution in the next session to come up with tangible answers on the matter to avoid the court to be used by the prosecution to undermine justice of the accused, a situation, which was not proper in law.

The defence counsel was reacting to Ms Elizabeth Mkunde for prosecution, who informed the court that investigation into the case was incomplete and that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had given some directives that were being worked on by investigators.

Having heard the concerns by the defence counsel, the trial attorney assured the court that the prosecution would continue giving investigative machinery directives to have the process expedited and they would report on the progress at the next court session.

When adjourning the case until November 17, this month, for another mention, the magistrate directed the prosecution to liaise with the DPP and report during the next court session on the actual position of the investigation recorded so far.

In the trial, Kalugendo, who is the Director of the Tanzania Sorting Company (Tansort) and Rweyemamu, the government diamond valuer, allegedly committed the offence on diverse dates between August 25 and 31, 2017, at different places in Dar es Salaam and Shinyanga regions.

It is alleged that, by their wilful acts, being government diamond valuers employed with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, jointly and together, they caused the government of the United Republic of Tanzania to suffer a pecuniary loss of $1,118,291.43 (equivalent to 2,486,397,982/54).

The arraignment of the two came after a Parliamentary Select Committee on diamonds presented its report to National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai, revealing gross irregularities in the supervision and regulation of the $100bn business.

According to the report, while the documents of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals show that the country had extracted diamond minerals weighing 1.47 million tonnes, the statement is contradicted by the report from the Tanzania Mineral Audit Agency (TMAA), which recorded 1.51million tonnes.

The minerals were valued at $367.3m against $374.6m. Despite the value of the mineral, Tanzania is the only country in Africa trading diamond at a low price of about $300 per carat compared to Botswana, which trades the same at an average of $1,900.

Select Committee Chairman Mussa Zungu revealed, when presenting the report further that the committee had also found records regarding royalties between 2007 and 2016. Accord-ing to the ministry's report, about $18m was paid against $15m registered in the TMAA statement.

"There was no explanation from both parties regarding differences in the statements, although they are all government offices," Mr Zungu is quoted as saying, when presenting the report. Surprisingly, however, he said, the TRA records indicated that between 2007 and 2016, diamond weighing 942,099 tonnes was extracted contrary to the 1.51 million tonnes reported by TMAA.

This means that the TRA did not account for about $198.743m (437.23bn/-), according to the report. The committee, however, accused Petra Diamonds Company Limited, which succeeded the Williamson Diamond Mining Company in Mwadui, Shinyanga, for forgery and hiking equipment costs of denying the government its legitimate revenue.

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