'Harare water chemicals were not cleared'

HARARE - Sodium cyanide which was delivered to Morton Jaffray water works for water treatment was not cleared at the border, the court heard yesterday.

Environmental Management Agency (Ema) provincial manager Kingston Chitotombe told the court during the trial of Farai Muchenje, Simon Demhe, Appronalise Mupakaviri and Tiki Tarwirei that Demhe, who was driving the truck, did not clear the consignment at the border.

The four are accused of conspiring to deliver the sodium cyanide instead of aluminium sulphate at the Harare water works.

“The driver passed through Forbes Border Post without clearing the consignment which was supposed to be cleared by Ema before entering the country,” Chitotombe told the court.

He said it was a legal requirement that all importers ferrying hazardous substances be cleared by Ema first.

“It is the importer’s duty and a legal requirement that all harmful substances must be cleared before entering the country. Sodium cyanide is a hazardous substance which needs to be cleared by Ema before entering the country,” said Chitotombe.

Sodium cyanide is a substance that is imported mainly for gold processing.

Also giving evidence, Teddy Mafuko, the Harare City Council’s quality assurance manager told the court the chemical could have caused the death of almost three million people in and around Harare had it been used.

But the consignment was not even offloaded at the waterworks, and council officials have said there was no way they could have taken delivery of the substance, which was supposed to be delivered at the MT&N Distributors warehouse.

Malvin Mukavari, the clearance clerk at Forbes Border Post where the truck passed through, said the driver could have passed through Ema for clearance after he had cleared them. Patson Makashu, the City of Harare’s loss control officer at Morton Jaffray said he became aware there was sodium cyanide after the consignment was opened for inspection.

The four, who are facing culpable homicide charges, pleaded not guilty, saying the charges they were facing were vague.

Their lawyer Nicholas Chikono said the charge the four are facing is conspiracy to deliver sodium cyanide not conspiracy to discharge the chemical as claimed by the state in the charge sheet.

“This is not a game, so I assume the state is not familiar with the charge the four are facing that is why I am saying this charge is vague and embarrassing,” said Chikono.

The trial continues today.

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