Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The High Court is this week expected to hear a high profile corruption case in which the State is seeking to recover more than US$32 million and forfeit numerous properties from former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and his family.
Chihuri, who is believed to be in Malawi, is reported to have created a “criminal syndicated mafia” that siphoned funds for his personal, family and cronies’ benefit during the 25 years he was at the helm of the police force.
He fled the country following his removal from the post soon after the November 2017 resignation of the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Chihuri is alleged to have sold five properties between 2017 and 2018 that were part of a large property portfolio.
Buyers paid a total of US$620 000 for the five properties registered in the names of his family members and the State is still trying to find out how ownership changed in respect of two other assets previously owned by the Chihuri family.
Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi, has filed a fresh application seeking explanation on the sale of the properties.
Justice Pisirayi Kwenda is on Wednesday expected to hear the matter in which Chihuri, through his legal counsel, will be expected to explain the sale of the properties.
In the latest High Court application counteracting Chihuri’s bid to set aside two orders issued against him, Mr Hodzi said a check with the Deeds Office showed the rushed disposal of assets by the Chihuri family.
Among the properties sold is a mansion in Gletwyn sitting on 30 acres of land valued at US$7 million.
On July 17, 2018, Isobel Halima Khan Chihuri sold stand 1421 Gletwyn Township which was walled, gated with a borehole, water tank, tank stand and wooden cabin to Brian Chijaka for US$130 000.
Her brother, Aitken Khan, had her power of attorney.
Stand Number 1411 Gletwyn was also sold by True Hope Trust again with Khan standing in for his sister, but the value of the property is yet to be established.
On March 21, 2018, Khan sold number 8 St Aubin’s Chisipite in Harare on behalf of owner Samantha Chihuri to Erinah Muchingami for US$365 000.
The property, measuring 9 094 square metres has a four-bedroomed house with borehole and is gated and walled.
On August 29, 2017, Khan sold another property in Strathaven, registered in the name of Nicole Tawonga Chihuri to Fairline Investments Pvt Ltd for US$125 000.
The Chihuri family is expected to disclose how they acquired Lot 3 of Plot 4 of Juliasdale, Nyanga, a property worth US$3 860 000 and registered in the names of Samantha Chihuri, Ethan Augustine Chihuri, Nicole Tawonga Chihuri and Anashe Melamine Chihuri under Deed of Transfer 2208/12.
The family should also explain how it acquired — 14453 Ibhalabhala Crescent, Selbourne in Bulawayo which was transferred from the ex-police boss’ name into the name of Tendai Madamombe on July 24, 2018. The buyer has since resold the property.
Chihuri, his wife Isobel and children — Ethan and Samantha — were listed as respondents together with five companies involved in the alleged siphoning of money from the Police Revolving Fund.
An order which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) obtained at the High Court placed known family property in Zimbabwe under the management of the Asset Management Unit of the NPA.
This means the property and companies cannot be sold without permission of the courts. Chihuri is challenging earlier unexplained wealth orders.
He argues that the unexplained wealth order constituted a “gross irregularity and a fundamental breach of their legal rights” and wants the High Court to declare that certain provisions of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act of 2019, infringe the Constitution.
In challenging the constitutionality of these provisions in the High Court, Chihuri and his family rely on a constitutional provision that gives courts subordinate to the Constitutional Court the power to make constitutional declarations and to pronounce as invalid, offensive pieces of legislation, although any such finding is subject to confirmation by the Constitutional Court.
Chihuri argues that if for any reason, the High Court does not wish to consider the constitutional matter, then the constitutional questions he is raising should be referred to the Constitutional Court for determination.