Dar es Salaam — The Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court has set March 27 as the date on which it will make a ruling whether defence should be given copies of case proceedings and other evidence or not in an economic sabotage case facing top officials of the Railway Holding Company (Rahco).
The accused in the case include managing director Benhardard Tito and company lawyer Emmanuel Massawe alongside a businessperson who is also a representative of Rothschild (South Africa) Proprietary Limited, Kanji Mwinyijuma.
On February 27, defence lawyer Jeremiah Mtobesya argued that economic sabotage cases were heard by the High Court and therefore demanded that defence be handed with copies of witness statements and all other evidence.
Responding to the defence arguments before Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba, Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) lawyer Maghela Ndimbo countered that it was only the statement of the plaintiff that can be given out if it is be used in a respective case.
He quoted Section 246 (2) of the Criminal Procedures Act saying it does not direct that the accused be given copies but explains how the case can be referred to the High Court.
He argued that Section 249 of the CPA explains the procedures of presenting the accused before the High Court that are given to lower courts.
"It is not true that all cases of economic sabotage are heard in the Corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court of Tanzania expect those cases of the value exceeding Sh1 billion," argued Mr Ndimbo.
He further elaborated that Section 31 of the Economic Sabotage Act directs that the accused be given copies of the filing of the case at the High Court and that for them to be handed with documents, their case must first have been referred to the High Court.
"What is happening in this case, already the Director of Public Prosecutions has issued a certificate authorizing a lower court to hear the case as per Section 12 (3,4) of the Economic Sabotage Act, whereby the case shall be heard just like other cases," he argued.
After having listened to arguments by both parties, Magistrate Simba postponed the case until March 27, when he will make a ruling.
In the main case, the accused are facing four charges including economic sabotage, abuse of office, conspiring and occasioning a loss of $527,540 to Rahco.
The accused were claimed that between September 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 with the intention to commit a crime conspired, contrary to the law of anti-corruption and combating of corruption.
It was claimed that on February 27, 2015, at Rahco offices in Ilala, Tito abused powers of his office by contracting Rothschild (South Africa) Proprietary Ltd as a consultant in the Central Railway Line improvement project without first obtaining the nod of the Tender Board of Rahco.
It was further alleged that on March 12, 2015 at the Rahco Ilala Offices, the duo used the powers of their offices to sign a letter clearing the South African firm to be the consultant in the project of improvement of the Central Railway Line and provide consultancy services in financial matters of the project.
In another charge, Tito and Massawe, on March 12, 2015 in Ilala District are claimed to have failed to submit the contract on the consultancy services by the South African firm to Rahco.
Tito and Massawe jointly are alleged that on May 20,2015 at Rahco offices, they abused the powers of their offices and signed the contract of consultancy service provision to the South African firm without being allowed to do so by the Tender Board of Rahco.
The accused were claimed that between May 20 and June 20, 2015 abused the powers of their offices by failing to submit the contract they entered with the South African firm to the Attorney General.
Tito, Mwinyijuma and Massawe were claimed that between March 1 and September 30, 2015 at Rahco offices, contracted the South African firm and issued payment to it for consultancy services, payment which occasioned Rahco a loss of $527,540.
It was further claimed that on August 18, 2015 at Ilala Rahco offices, Tito abused powers of his office to contract a Chinese railway construction company the task of construction two kilometres of a railwayline at Soga at the value of $2,312,22.39 without first obtaining the go ahead of the Tender Board of Rahco.