Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba and his two co-accused’s bid to quash the charges against them for corruptly altering an approved layout plan before allocating it to another user, has failed after the High Court threw out the application.
Gomba is being charged along with former town planner Samuel Nyabeze and municipal surveyor Munyaradzi Bowa.
They wanted the charges dropped, arguing the prosecution’s allegations do not show elements that constitute a criminal offence to warrant prosecution.
The trio is accused of conniving to alter an approved layout plan belonging to Youths in Business Housing Trust and giving it to another user.
Gomba, through his legal counsel, approached the High Court on review of the trial court’s decision dismissing their application for exception to the charge.
But Justice Benjamin Chikowero sitting with Justice Rogers Manyangadze threw out the application for review by the former mayor, citing no irregularity to warrant the higher court’s interference.
“This is not one of those rare or exceptional cases where there is gross irregularity going to the root of the proceedings, vitiating the proceedings irreparably, as to justify interference with the ongoing proceedings before the second respondent (National Prosecuting Authority),” said Justice Chikowero.
“The application for review of the interlocutory decision handed down by the regional court dismissing the applicant’s exception to the charge be and is hereby dismissed.”
Charges against the three arose after they allegedly converted State land into council land and allocated it to Taringana Housing Scheme with the same plan number that was allocated to Youths in Business Trust.
It is alleged that Gomba, in his capacity as the ceremonial mayor, wrote a memorandum on February 18, 2020, saying the plan for Taringana Housing Scheme had been approved and council should proceed to survey the land.
This, says the State, was misleading and inaccurate since the same plan had been issued and approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to the Youths in Business Housing Scheme.
Plans to proceed with the change had also been set aside by the town clerk, but Gomba disregarded such advice and acted beyond his powers as a ceremonial mayor.
The Environmental Management Authority Agency inspected the land and noted that 40 percent of it was a wetland and recommended that part be left out of the planned development.
But it is alleged that the two officials went on to demarcate the wetland into 530 housing stands, disregarding the recommendation.
All three are accused of showing favour to Taringana Housing Trust and disfavouring Youths in Business Housing Scheme.