A trial date for the high profile case involving Mashonaland West provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo, former Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Jason Machaya and six other senior Government employees has been set for March 8.
By Court Reporter
Machaya (65), Chitiyo (50), who is the former PA for Midlands Province, Matilda Manhambo (59), Sherpard Marweyi (48), Sifelani Moyo (59), Ethel Mlalazi (65), Chisainyerwa Chibhururu (47) and Everest Nyamadzawo (33) appeared before a Bulawayo regional magistrate Ms Sibongile Msipa for allegedly annexing over 11 000 stands owned by the State through the Ministry of Local Government, which was contrary to Government policy.
They are also facing criminal abuse of office. Ms Msipa and prosecution led by Mr Tapiwa Kasema coming in from Harare are part of magistrates and prosecutors to staff Zimbabwe’s Anti-Corruption Courts who received specialised training to deal with graft matters.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) last year opened Anti-Corruption Courts in Harare and Bulawayo, with the prosecution making an undertaking that any property acquired by the suspects through corrupt activities will be forfeited to the State upon conviction.
Ms Msipa ruled in favour of the defense counsel which made an application for the matter to be postponed citing that they had not received their clients warned and cautioned statements from the State.
“The defense was arguing that it was not served with the accused warned and cautioned statements so as to enable them to prepare case. The State is not sure whether or not it served them. In view of the submission made by the defense, the application made by defense is with merit and is granted. The State is ordered to furnish the defense with warmed and cautioned statements of their clients. By consent we will have the trial kicking off from March 4 to March 8. I don’t want to be told stories on March 4 when we go for trial,” she said.
Earlier, Mr Kasema had told the court that the defense wanted to postpone the matter so as to frustrate the State witnesses some of whom are coming from Harare.
Machaya is on $1 000 bail, while Chitiyo, Manhambo, Marweyi, Moyo, Mlalazi, Chibhururu and Nyamadzawo are on $200 bail each.
It is the State’s case that Chitiyo, who was employed as the PA for Midlands Province, allegedly intentionally allocated State land totalling 4 469 stands to land developers by co-signing offer letters for the State land with Machaya.
Manhambo, who is employed as the provincial projects officer by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for Midlands Province, also allegedly allocated 2 000 stands to land developers and entities working in cahoots with Machaya.
Similarly, Marweyi, who is the district administrator for Gweru, allegedly intentionally allocated 5 199 stands to land developers also working in cahoots with Machaya.
Nyamadzawo, who is an administrative officer in the same ministry with Chibhururu, Moyo and Mlalazi, is accused of unlawfully writing a survey instruction letter to the surveyor-general, instructing his office to nominate a surveyor for the Stand land, knowing fully well that Government had not allocated that land. Survey instructions, the State argues, can only be written in respect of State land allocated to persons and entities by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.