Mpofu fails to testify

HARARE - Former Mines minister Obert Mpofu failed to testify in Lovemore Kurotwi’s $2 billion fraud case yesterday, after the court said the State should first table its findings from an inspection-in-loco conducted in South Africa.

Kurotwi, the Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Limited director, is jointly charged with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)’s ex-boss Dominic Mubaiwa.

Chris Mutangadura, the chief law officer, yesterday summoned Mpofu to testify as the State’s last witness.

However, Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa objected to Mpofu giving evidence before the findings of the inspection-in-loco were presented in court.

She said all the witnesses who made indications were supposed to be recalled as the State wraps up its findings and confirm their observations under oath.

She told the court that Mpofu, who is now the Transport minister, could not testify before the findings of the inspection-in-loco were presented in court.

High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu concurred with Mtetwa, saying the evidence presented in South Africa was incomplete, without the witnesses making confirmations of their observations.

Mutangadura applied to have the matter postponed to give him a chance to subpoena the witnesses.

The trial was then deferred to next week Monday.

Charges against Kurotwi and Mubaiwa arose after a failed investment by South African diamond firm, Benn Steinmeitz Group Resources (BSGR) into the diamond mining in Marange fields.

Kurotwi is accused of misrepresenting to the ministry of Mines and ZMDC that Core Mining was a special purpose vehicle of BSGR, which was supposed to be the guarantor in a joint venture agreement between the parties.

ZMDC, which owns Marange Resources and Kurotwi’s Core Mining, went into a joint venture deal to extract diamonds in Marange, forming the now defunct Canadile Miners.

The State alleges parties later travelled to South Africa for a due diligence exercise, after Mubaiwa prepared an unapproved and uncirculated Memorandum of Agreement between Marange Resources (Private) Limited signed in July 2009, without acquiring Cabinet authority.

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