Zimbabwe: No Joy for U.S.$1m Stands Scammers

13 August 2020

Four Harare City Council workers who are facing charges of fraudulently allocating 150 residential stands in Kuwadzana will remain in custody after their appeals for bail at the High Court were thrown out for lack of merit.

Principal housing officer Edgar Dzehonye, Tineyi Kureva, Samantha Bobosibunu Maserere and Wellington Tauya were last month denied bail by Harare magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna on the basis that they were likely to abscond if set free.

The quartet is facing fraud charges with an alternative criminal abuse of office charge.

Aggrieved by the magistrate's decision, the quartet approached the High Court on appeal, arguing the lower court had misdirected itself in denying them bail.

But Justice Tawanda Chitapi found no fault on the magistrate's decision to warrant the High Court to interfere with the decision.

He noted that the request for remand showed that police undertook to complete investigations by July 15, which did not happen.

Instead of noting appeals, Justice Chitapi said the four should have gone back to the same court to seek bail on the grounds of changed circumstances, taking into account that the period given for completion of investigations had passed by the time their appeals were noted and argued.

"Therefore, in the absence of the applicants establishing misdirection of law and fact committed by the magistrate there is no basis for interference with the magistrate's decision," said Justice Chitapi.

"Consequently . . . the applicants' appeals be and they are hereby dismissed."

Charges against the four city employees arose between 2018 and 2019, when they connived with other council officials including Matthew Marara, Tapiwa Gona, Believer Mupawaenda, Margaret Sarudzai George and Rudo Chigocha, who are already on remand, to defraud the council.

They allegedly identified open spaces in Kuwadzana 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Further allegations are that they connived with other employees in the survey department and drew layout plans and allocated them stand numbers.

The court heard that they created fictitious paying schemes before fraudulently connecting water and creating sundry accounts for the purpose of selling the stands to home seekers.

The State said this was not consistent with their duties.

It is said they sold a total of 150 stands in Kuwadzana without council approval.

Further allegations are that the stands were disposed of through an estate agency, which received the money and deposited it into Gona's bank account, who in turn allegedly transferred it to his alleged accomplices' accounts.

Council allegedly lost US$$1 141 779 in the process.

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