Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Martin Tafara Dinha (53) yesterday appeared in court facing charges of extorting $60 000 from a white commercial farmer as protection fee against eviction. He appeared before Bindura magistrate Mr Elisha Singano, facing criminal abuse of office or alternatively bribery charges. The minister — who is also facing money laundering charges — was granted $1 000 bail and ordered to surrender his passport. Mr Singano ordered Dinha to reside at his given address, report every Friday at Bindura CID and not to interfere with State witnesses.
Dinha allegedly demanded $60 000 from Mr Guy Frank Dollar as protection fee against eviction from his Tzoro Farm in Centenary. He is represented by his lawyer Mr Tapson Dzvetero of Antonio and Dzvetero Legal Practitioners. Dinha, of Number 1026 Oak Road, Bindura, will be arraigned at the High Court on October 19.
The court heard that Tzoro Farm was subdivided into several plots allocated to several beneficiaries in June 2012. Prosecutor Mr Nguni Nguni alleged that between 2012 and March 28, 2013 Dollar faced problems with new farmer’s allocated A2 plots from the farm. Dinha was allegedly advised of the problems by an official, identified as Saineti Magore Madzamba and was told that Dollar co-existed with others well.
Dinha instructed Madzamba that Dollar should pay $60 000 for him to save and protect him. After being pressured, Dollar looked for the money and met Madzamba at Rumhanje Farm in Centenary. Dollar handed over a plastic bag containing $60 000 to Madzamba who allegedly phoned Dinha advising him that he received the money.
Madzamba was instructed to hand over the money to Tsitsi Nyika, who is a friend to Dinha’s wife since he was in China. It is alleged that on the same day Dinha’s wife phoned and instructed Nyika to take $40 000 from the money and deposit it into Dinha’s POSB bank account number 117670000067.
After a day Dinha phoned Dollar advising him that he was back from China, thanking him for the money. After two weeks, Dollar met Dinha and he thanked him again saying he gave the money to a higher authority. It is alleged that Dinha also promised Dollar that an offer letter for his farm was being processed.
On April 17, 2013 Dinha allegedly transferred $30 000 from his POSB account number into his other account number 117310004276 with the same bank. On several occasions Dinha withdrew money from the account and left only $1 012, 29 hence is also accused of money laundering offence. The court heard that Dinha abused his position as Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister as well as chairperson of the Provincial Lands Committee.
This was contrary and inconsistent with his duty as a public officer, the court heard. Dollar lost $60 000 and nothing was recovered.