BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo has been caught in the eye of a storm after she allegedly ordered the release of top National Prosecuting Agency (NPA) official, Chris Mutangadura, who had been arrested for criminal abuse of office involving a case before Bulawayo courts.
Mutangadura, the NPA’s chief public prosecutor in charge of the asset forfeiture unit, was reported to Zacc after he allegedly meddled in a case which involved local businessman Lovemore Kutamahufa.
Kutamahufa, who is the director of Aman Obrie Investment Private Limited, is facing criminal prosecution at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court for alleged fraud
involving a US$75 000 bank loan.
He was charged after his business partner Lungisani Ncube, a Zanu PF politician, accused him of forging his signature to obtain a loan from FBC Bank.
Ncube accused him of using his title deeds as collateral in the loan application without his consent.
The trial, however, stalled after Kutamahufa challenged how a forensic handwriting expert only identified as LT Nhari was roped into the investigation without following proper procedure.
A fortnight ago, Mutangadura was investigated by Zacc with a view to detain and arraign him before the courts.
However, it is alleged that Matanda-Moyo ordered his release and shelved the docket.
When contacted for comment, Justice Matanda-Moyo denied that she intervened in the matter to protect Mutangadura.
“That’s not true that I interfered to protect Mutangadura. It’s true that he was investigated and his docket completed. However, what I did in liaison with the Legal Services Department was to temporarily shelve the matter until the outcome of Kutamahufa’s case. We didn’t want to confuse the court by bringing the case to court when another case involving the same matter was on trial. That would jeopardise the case which is already before the courts,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
She said she could not have protected the NPA boss when she was the one who ordered the matter to be investigated in the first place.
“When the complainant (Kutamahufa) approached me, I discovered that there was some interference in his case in Bulawayo and that there was a lie that the government handwriting expert had no capacity to examine samples in order to allow the filing of papers from a private handwriting expert.
“So what I did was to make sure that due process takes its course. I know there are some people who are pushing for me to be returned to the bench, but I did everything above board and the matter will be taken into action as soon as possible,” she said.
Former NPA Bulawayo boss, Martha Cheda, in her statement to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), said she was not sure how Kutamahufa’s docket ended in Mutangadura’s hands.
“Before September 2018, I was based in Bulawayo and dealt with the matter of Lovemore Kutamahufa and ORS contravening section 136 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 Bulawayo Central CR132/11/15. The docket was referred to my office and it had a letter dated October 24, 2017 written by Mr Mutangadura attached to it, directing that the matter be prosecuted. I don’t know how the docket got to Harare. I never directed that a private QDE (handwriting expert) be engaged,” Cheda said in documents seen by NewsDay.
Acting deputy Prosecutor-General Justin Uladi in his statement to Zacc said: “We have gone through the records at the head office and there is no evidence or record of the docket having been referred from Bulawayo to the head office for consideration. Therefore, we don’t know how Chris Mutangadura got involved in that matter,” Uladi told investigators.
The director of the Department of Forensic Sciences in the Home Affairs ministry, Bothwell Takura Mutandiro also told investigators that the final analyses on handwriting samples were not done because the department was waiting for additional samples from the police.
Clara Beatrice Tendai Gombakomba, a handwriting expert and deputy director in the Department of Forensic Sciences, told Zacc investigators that she had written a report to the officer-in-charge, CID Fraud in Bulawayo requesting additional samples so that an examination could be concluded.
Mutangadura allegedly ordered the prosecution of Kutamahufa, FBC bank manager Tizirai Mutandwa and lawyer Jonathan Taona Tsvangirai on the strength of a report made by Nhari that Ncube’s signatures was forged.
On October 24, 2017, Mutangadura used Nhari’s report to order Kutamahufa’s prosecution after claiming that Gombakomba was not available and the government forensic department had no capacity to examine handwriting.
But Mutangadura’s assertion was at variance with a report from the Zimbabwe Republic Police forensic department dated April 25, 2017 that indicated that the forged documents had not been examined by Gombakomba because they were not legible and the complainant, Ncube, refused to avail the original documents.
Mutangadura is now accused of colluding with Ncube and Nhari to use illegible copies of samples to produce the report, contrary to standard criminal procedure.
Kutamahufa lodged a complaint against Mutangadura with Zacc, which was recorded as case number HCR.21/05/2020.
According to the documents seen by NewsDay, Kutamahufa obtained a US$75 000 loan from FBC sometime in 2013, which was meant to finance his agricultural and mining activities in the country.
The mining business, however, faced viability challenges and he failed to service the bank loan, resulting in FBC instituting legal proceedings against him with the aim of attaching Ncube’s properties.
During a civil trial that ensued at the Harare High Court, Ncube turned against Kutamahufa, alleging that he had stolen his title deeds and fraudulently got the loan.
But in a judgment under HH459-17 on July 19, 2018, High Court judge Justice Moses Foroma dismissed Ncube’s allegation. Ncube then reported Kutamahufa to the police, accusing him of forging his signature.