Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
The trial of the high profile case involving former Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Jason Machaya, Mashonaland West provincial administrator (PA) Cecilia Chitiyo and six other senior Government employees has been set for March 4.
Machaya (65), Chitiyo (50), who is the former PA for Midlands Province, Matilda Manhambo (59), Sherpard Marweyi (48), Sifelani Moyo (59), Ethel Mlalazi (65), Chisainyerwa Chibhururu (47) and Everest Nyamadzawo (33) appeared before Bulawayo regional magistrate Ms Sibongile Msipa yesterday on allegations of annexing over 11 000 stands owned by the State through the Ministry of Local Government, which was contrary to Government policy.
They were also facing criminal abuse of office charges.
Ms Msipa and the prosecution led by Mr Tapiwa Kasema from Harare are part of magistrates and prosecutors of the Anti-Corruption Courts who received specialised training to deal with graft matters.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) last year opened Anti-Corruption Courts in Harare and Bulawayo, with the prosecution making an undertaking that any property acquired by the suspects through corrupt activities will be forfeited to the State upon conviction.
Ms Msipa ruled in favour of the defence counsel, which made an application for the matter to be postponed, citing that they had not received their clients’ warned and cautioned statements from the State.
“The defence was arguing that it was not served with the accused warned and cautioned statements to enable them to (for the) prepare case,” she said.
“The State is not sure whether or not it served them. In view of the submission made by the defence, the application made by defence is with merit and is granted. The State is ordered to furnish the defence with warned and cautioned statements of their clients.
“By consent, we will have the trial kicking off from March 4 to 8. I don’t want to be told stories on March 4 when we go for trial.”
Mr Kasema told the court that the defence wanted to postpone the matter to frustrate the State witnesses, some of whom were coming from Harare.
Machaya is on $1 000 bail, while Chitiyo, Manhambo, Marweyi, Moyo, Mlalazi, Chibhururu and Nyamadzawo are on $200 bail each.
It is the State’s case that Chitiyo, who was employed as the PA for Midlands Province, allegedly intentionally allocated State land totalling 4 469 stands to land developers by co-signing offer letters for the State land with Machaya.
Manhambo, who was employed as the provincial projects officer by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for Midlands Province, also allegedly allocated 2 000 stands to land developers and entities working in cahoots with Machaya.
Similarly, Marweyi, who was the district administrator for Gweru, allegedly intentionally allocated 5 199 stands to land developers, also working in cahoots with Machaya.
Nyamadzawo, who was an administrative officer in the same ministry with Chibhururu, Moyo and Mlalazi, was accused of unlawfully writing a survey instruction letter to the surveyor-general, instructing his office to nominate a surveyor for the Stand land, knowing fully well that Government had not allocated that land.
Survey instructions, the State argues, could only be written in respect of State land allocated to persons and entitles by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.