Lovemore Meya Court Correspondent
Suspended Chitungwiza mayor Phillip Mutoti and former housing director, Kennedy Dube, were on Friday sentenced to 280 hours of community service after being convicted of criminal abuse of duty as public officers.
Mutoti and Dube were facing fraud or alternatively criminal abuse of duty as public officers’ charges before Chitungwiza resident magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo. Mr Mapfumo acquitted them of fraud, but found them guilty of an alternative charge of criminal abuse of duty as public officers.
He slapped the convicts with a year in prison each, with four months suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour. The remaining eight months were commuted to 280 hours of community service. Mutoti will perform the unpaid work at Bumhudzo Old People’s Home in Manyame Park, Chitungwiza, while Dube will be at CID, Makoni Police Station. In passing sentence, Mr Mapfumo said the court considered that the pair were first offenders.
“They are family men with responsibilities,” he said. “The conviction will no doubt affect them at their workplaces. They are likely to lose their jobs. The two were council employees and they occupied high positions. They, however, committed a serious offence of criminal abuse of office by facilitating the acquisition of a residential stand for a three-year-old. The first accused (Mutoti) as a mayor should have known that what he was engaging in was wrong and an abuse of his big office.”
Mr Mapfumo said the same applied to Dube who was the housing director then. He added that their lawyers, Mr Albert Nyikadzino of Nyikadzino, Simango and Associates — who represented Dube — and Mr Marufu Mandevere of Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners, for Mutoti, had successfully pushed for a non-custodial sentence.
“They both said an appropriate sentence was that of a fine, coupled with a wholly suspended prison term,” said Mr Mapfumo. “I associated myself when they suggested a non-custodial sentence.
“I, however, believe that a sentence of a fine will not do justice to this case. I found the sentence of community service to be appropriate in the circumstances.”
The prosecutor Ms Tafadzwa Makwande proved that on July 2, 2015, Mutoti made an application to Dube for a residential stand measuring 200 square metres. He said it was on behalf of his son, Nathan, who was then three years old.
Before making the application, Mutoti approached axed town clerk, George Makunde — who has already been acquitted on both counts — and they discussed the issue.
Mutoti said he was given the green light to apply for the stand, even though his son was not on the council’s waiting list. He lied that Nathan was self-employed and the minor was allocated stand number 26008 in Unit C, Chitungwiza through Dube. Dube made the allocation ahead of 7 216 applicants on the waiting list. On September 15, Mutoti sold the same stand to Patience Tandiwe Chimbwe and lied that she was his relative.