|Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:24|
Masvingo BureauA MWENEZI resident magistrate has been arrested on allegations of conspiring with other court officials to sell each other property that had been forfeited to the state from several suspects.
Tapera Vhudzijena (45) was arrested together with the clerk of court and other officials.
Vhudzijena has since appeared before Masvingo regional magistrate Mrs Esther Muremba facing five counts of criminal abuse of office.
Charges against Vhudzijena arose sometime between December 2011 and May this year during which time police in Mwenezi had arrested several people for smuggling offences. Police recovered various items that include electrical gadgets, clothes and blankets, which were taken from the suspects as exhibits. It is alleged that the majority of the suspects were convicted for smuggling and had their property forfeited to the state as a result. However, Vhudzijena allegedly instructed the clerk of court at the Mwenezi magistrates’ court to dispose of the exhibits. The magistrate allegedly bought the forfeited property together with other court officials without conducting a public auction as per the rules.
Vhudzijena also allegedly determined prices of most of the property that he bought such as refrigerators, blankets, electric generators, stoves and other items. Among other items that Vhudzijena bought at low prices was a five piece kitchen table which he allegedly bought for a paltry US$20.
Vhudzijena was arrested after police detectives got wind of the offence. Police managed to recover most of the property which Vhudzijena and other fellow court officials had sold to themselves at low prices.