via Gweru mayor, accomplices remanded in custody – Sunday News Mar 13, 2016
Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
SUSPENDED Gweru Mayor Councillor Hamutendi Kombayi, his Deputy Councillor Artwel Matyorauta and Town Clerk Daniel Matawu who were on Wednesday last week arrested on allegations of fraud, theft and criminal abuse of office after they funded MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s visit to Gweru to the tune of $8 000 from council coffers yesterday appeared in court facing charges of theft and criminal abuse of office.
The trio was not asked to plead when they appeared before Gweru magistrate Mrs Vimbai Makora who remanded them in custody to tomorrow after a heated four-hour court session which adjourned twice before the magistrate could reach the verdict.
The defence counsel had strongly opposed the remanding of the accused persons in custody claiming that they had been abused by police in that the law enforcers had delayed in preferring the charges and asking the accused the trio to write their warned and cautioned statements.
Lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika who was representing the three argued that there was no basis upon which they could be placed on remand because the papers placed before the court seeking the accused persons to be remanded were defective in that the charges preferred were inapplicable on the matter at hand.
“The annexure needs to be done so that it reflects the appropriate charge being preferred against the three. The State erred in preferring the charge of theft against the three accused persons,” he said.
The State led by Ms Helen Khosa and Mr Daniel Tafuma conceded that it had erred in the Form 242 which spells out the charges in brief and asked the court to alter and prefer the charge of criminal abuse of office.
The State later deferred the bail hearing to tomorrow.
For the State Ms Khosa alleged that during the period extending from 31 July 2013 to 30 June last year, Kombayi, Matyorauta and Matawu acting in common purpose hatched a plan and connived to steal and abuse ratepayers’ funds by making unlawful payments for non-council business to meet expenses for their private activities and functions.
During the said period the accused persons made a payment of $1 875 to Antelope Park and Resort and Fairmile Motel using rate payers’ funds to meet expenses of Mr Tsvangirai and his entourage’s private function.
Furthermore the accused persons made an unauthorised payment of $6 858 to Fairmile and Village Lodge using council’s funds without authority on non-council business to meet the expenses related to their personal and private business bringing the total to $8 733.