Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
A suspect in the alleged theft of 33,6 tonnes of Command Agriculture fertiliser yesterday told the court that the beneficiaries of the scheme sold the inputs to him.
Making his bail application yesterday, Tafirenyika Mariga (43) told the court that he did not commit the offence.
“I am a family man and I am applying for bail. I have no knowledge of other criminal cases the State is alleging,” he said.
“I was convicted in Chinhoyi and sentenced to community service. These farmers who alleged that I stole from them are the ones who sold me their fertilisers.”
Mariga is jointly charged with Hilda Masamba (34) and Kumbirai Duku (36).
Duku, who is represented by Mr Stephen Chikotora, said he is not known to Mariga and Masamba.
“Accused has an alibi. He was in Chiredzi on the day in question and nowhere near the crime scene,” said Mr Chikotora.
“The police used a dragnet approach in arresting the accused and Duku is a victim of circumstances. There is no detail of what he did during the offence. He is a commodity broker and he wanted to buy the fertiliser for resale.”
Masamba told the court she did not know why she was arrested.
The prosecutor, Ms Audrey Chogumaira, opposed bail saying the trio will prey on unsuspecting farmers if released.
“The offence is aggravated by the fact that the accused are defeating Government efforts to provide farming inputs to farmers,” she said.
Harare magistrate Ms Rumbidzai Mugwagwa will make a bail ruling today.
Ms Chogumaira told the court that the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development initiated the Command Agriculture programme.
Targeted farmers in Makonde district, Mashonaland West province were advised to come together in order for them to access Command Agriculture inputs.
It is alleged that 51 farmers in that district formed themselves into a group, which they named Chimurenga.
On December 5 last year, the group was instructed by Agritex Chinhoyi to collect 33,6 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser and Atrazin herbicides from Harare.
The court heard that four days later, Christopher Manuwere, Petros Mutenga and the group’s secretary Christopher Tadzimirwa, went to Windmill, a fertiliser company in Harare to collect the farming inputs.
The fertiliser was worth $16 800. The trio sought to hire a truck and was referred to Mariga, who allegedly met Manuwere at Windmill and charged them $650 for the trip to Shubhara Farm in Makonde.
A deposit of $400 was paid, while the balance of $250 was supposed to be paid upon delivery. Manuwere was issued with a delivery note indicating the details of the driver.
In connivance with Masamba, Mariga contacted Manuwere and advised him to wait for them at Westgate roundabout along the Harare-Chirundu Highway where he would pick him up on their way to Makonde.
It is alleged that Mariga, Masamba and the truck driver left Windmill with the loaded truck. Mariga later sent $14 to Manuwere via mobile money platform EcoCash and ordered him to hire a taxi, while advising him that he had gone to Banket and the truck was on its way.
About $17 350 was lost and nothing was recovered. Duku was arrested last Wednesday and implicated his co-accused.