Senior Court Reporter
FORMER Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Petronella Kagonye yesterday denied allegations of duping two housing cooperatives of US$38 500 in the sale of residential stands at Solomio Farm in Goromonzi.
Kagonye, who is charged with two counts of fraud and one of theft involving her company Glorious Real Estate, also denied acquiring 20 computers from Potraz in 2018 under the pretext that she wanted to distribute them to schools in Goromonzi South Constituency.
Through her lawyer, Mr Rungano Mahuni, Kagonye yesterday challenged the right of Joyce Chiroodza and Ngonidzashe Zvanezuro to represent the two co-operatives and said they could only testify on matters that pertain exclusively to their own investments.
Kagonye argues that the State failed to state the number of people from each cooperative who made US$10 contributions towards the purchase of the stands and also failed to indicate the sizes of the stands that she allegedly sold to the home-seekers.
“The charges are defective in that the US$38 500 is not the amount implicated, assuming the correctness of the facts and allegations that were implicated in the scheme.
“The accused persons challenge the exclusion of the true version that would have represented the true prejudice, potential and actuality of the inducement,” she said.
In her defence, Kagonye, said the appointment of her company as the developer at Solomio Farm in 2013 was lawful. She claimed that there was an agreement between Glorious Real Estate and the Ministry of Local Government, which gave it mandate to develop the land in question. Following this Kagonye and Glorious Real Estate offered the residential stands on terms that were agreed to by the two housing cooperatives, said her lawyer.
Kagonye denied knowing that the two cooperatives had invaded the farm and that the Ministry of Local Government had issued them with offer letters. She also denied knowing the existence of an unapproved layout plan saying she was aware of the one they submitted and was approved. While there had been a legal dispute between ZB Bank and Landela Safaris, there was not pronouncement by a court over who the real owner was and so she and her company.
“It is not alleged in the charge sheet that post the decision of the High Court in a dispute involving ZB Bank and Landela Safaris, the accused persons continued to or initiated further transactions in relation to the mandate.
“No dispute had arisen between the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and ZB Bank and Landela Safaris about the ownership of the land and there was certainly no pronouncement by a court as to who the real owner of the land was, and so she and her company were entitled to deal with the co-operatives.”
In denying stealing computers from Potraz, Kagonye said she ceased to be a minister of Government in 2018. She said it was not true that Potraz or anyone from that department contacted her at her home and requested an explanation, which she failed to provide.
Mrs Vongai Guwuriro presided while Mr Zivanai Macharaga appeared for the State.