Nyore Madzianike-Senior Court Reporter
The State will proceed by way of summons should it deem it necessary, after former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba and two officers from the evaluation department, Emmanuel Mutambirwa and Daniel Usingarahwi, were yesterday freed on allegations of illegally parcelling out stands at a reserved open space near Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare.
The trio had successfully applied for refusal of further remand.
Gomba, Mutambirwa and Usingarahwi were being charged with criminal abuse of office as public officers.
The State will only summon the trio back to court when it is ready to prosecute them. Through their lawyers, the trio told regional magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Mhene that the State was not ready to prosecute them and it had failed on numerous occasions to put them on trial.
They had also argued that the State had failed to furnish them with papers to prepare for trial.
In its response, the State, had requested for more time to prepare for the trial saying it had received the docket on October 12 and wanted to peruse it to ascertain if it had all the information that enables it to start the trial. In his ruling, Mr Mhene noted that it was almost seven months since the three were arrested with the State failing to put them on trial.
“The State had initially set September 23 as the trial date but on the day in question, the trial did not commence as the State did not serve defence with State papers,” said Mr Mhene.
“The matter was then postponed to October 12 for trial. On October 12, the State did not serve State papers to defence and trial did not commence. The State said it had received the docket on that set trial date.
“The State said they wanted to ascertain whether the police had placed enough information to enable them to go for trial. It is clear that the State is not ready and does not know when it will be ready.”
Mutambirwa and Usingarahwi were accused of conniving with Gomba to initiate the creation of commercial stands for sale to four people emanating from the Mayor’s office at Old Hararians Sports Club open space.
It was alleged that Mutambirwa then instructed the City of Harare’s planning division to draft a plan, subdividing the said piece of land and created four stands. The stands were for a proposed creche, medical centre, market place, active recreational space and filling station.
The planning division reportedly came up with a proposed draft plan that went through the circulation process to relevant stakeholders for their input and it received a no objections decision from the council’s estates and valuations division.
It was alleged that the council’s planning division’s head, Samuel Nyabeze, was under pressure through phone calls and verbal communication from Gomba and the then human resources committee chairperson, Jacob Mafume, to expedite the subdivision plan process.
It was said Nyabeze, who had been made aware that the two had urgent interest in the commercial stands and taking into account the long period required for the change of reservation process and the power they had over his career, succumbed to the pressure and approved the leasing of the land only, pending a change of reservation process according to the Regional Town and Country Planning Act.
It was alleged Mutambirwa, in connivance with Usingarahwi, Gomba and Mafume, disregarded the special conditions on the approved proposed subdivision plan and sold the commercial stands to four beneficiary companies owned by the same family at a combined cost of $5 213 781, without complying with the Regional Town and Country Planning Act.