via Cops torture Mugabe worker – DailyNews Live 30 April 2015
HARARE – An employee at President Robert Mugabe’s multi-million dollar farming empire, Gushungo Holdings, has told a Bindura court how he was savagely tortured in police custody and forced to implicate five other workers who escaped similar abuse by a whisker.
Testifying before regional magistrate William Bhila, Okay Mataramvura, 38, — who was convicted this week for defrauding the First Family’s company together with two accomplices — said police had tortured him so badly to placate Mugabe that he ended up falsely implicating the other five innocent co-workers.
After hearing all the testimony, Bhila hit out at the police for arresting the five innocent employees: Titus Jack, 42; Juliet Jombosi, 37; Kudakwashe Ndavara, 24; Tavengwa Katanda, 36; and Lloyd Banda, 34, whom he acquitted following an application for discharge at the close of the State’s case that was filed by their lawyer Gloria Sithole.
“The application for discharge is correctly made. In fact, I do not know why they were arrested. It’s not enough to arrest a person because of implication…It’s an injustice,” Bhila ruled.
Human rights groups said yesterday that the case reflected only a fraction of the myriad problems related to torture by law enforcement agents and custodial deaths in Zimbabwe.
They added that torture remained endemic and institutionalised to the administration and dispensation of justice in Zimbabwe, urging the government to demonstrate the “political will” to end these “unacceptable rights abuses”.
The torture reports come a week after a suspect, Robert Chimedza, died in police cells at Chitungwiza Police Station last Friday, amid accusations that he had been badly tortured after theft-related charges had been levelled against him.
Mataramvura was, together with his two accomplices — Boaz Chatepa, 32, and Richard Simani, 37, — who were also employed at the Gushungo Holdings farm, convicted on fraud charges.
Bhila sentenced Mataramvura to an effective one year in prison, after suspending the other three years on condition of good behaviour and if he restitutes $105 230,01.
Chatepa was slapped with a 36-month prison term, which was subsequently reduced to 15 months on condition of good behaviour and on condition that he restitutes $24 505,01. Simani will serve nine months in jail if he manages to pay back $2 807,01 by the end of August this year.
According to State papers, the three fraudsters were jointly accused of prejudicing Gushungo Holdings between December and February this year — with Mataramvura, who was a stores and field clerk at Gushungo Holdings, receipting cash amounting to $132 940,01 and then moving to alter the quantity of goods sold and pocketing the difference.
In their defence outline, two of the acquitted employees, Jack and Jombosi, told the court that they had been implicated by Mataramvura after they unearthed his underhand dealings.
“The accused will tell the court that the charges against him are as a result of malice, caprice and an afterthought by Okay Mataramvura for reporting this matter to their superiors and the police, leading to his arrest.
“I am the manager at the work place where the theft occurred. I started working there on May 1 last year and I did not connive with anyone to steal the said money. Cosmas Madangure and I caused the offence to come to light,” Jack, an estate manager at the firm said.
The Mugabes seized Gushungo Holdings farm, formerly owned by a white couple, in 2003. The First Family went on to establish a dairy operation said to produce in excess of 375 000 litres of milk per month, with the farm boasting 1 300 dairy cows.
The state-of-the-art equipment at the farm was reportedly bought from South Africa for a reported $15 million.
Gushungo Dairies also produces ice-cream, sour and fresh milk, yoghurts, flavoured milk and other products.
The Mugabes have since gone on a property acquisition spree in Mazowe, with his controversial wife Grace seizing part of former Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro producer Interfresh’s Mazoe Citrus Estate.
The Mugabes also snatched an additional 800 hectares of Mazoe Citrus Estate last year after the First Lady got over an initial 1 600 hectares in 2013.
In addition, there was a massive local and international furore last year when Grace caused the displacement of hundreds of poor villagers from Mazowe’s Manzou Farm which she is turning into a game reserve.