$700k Finance ministry scam — More suspects seek bail

HARARE - Two more suspects believed to be part of a syndicate that swindled the Finance ministry of $700 000 have applied for bail at the High Court.

Christopher Kumisai, 35 and Felix Rimaunga, 32, who were represented by Lewis Uriri, yesterday told High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu that they were suitable candidates for bail.

Uriri said the two should be released on bail, despite the State’s averments that they have previous convictions.

He said it was proper for his clients to be freed considering that some of their accomplices were granted bail. He said they did not have a propensity of committing further offences if released.

He added that it was critical to note that the duo’s alleged accomplices, Brian Nyazamba, 34, Thomas Mawoyo, 35, and Tonderai Musekiwa, 42, had been freed on bail. He urged the court to treat the suspects in the same manner.

Prosecutor Edmore Makoto opposed the application. He argued that the fact that the duo had previous convictions was a cogent indicator that they were likely to commit further offences if released on bail. The pair is jointly charged with Tinashe Jakopo, 46, Antony Tafirenyika, 36, Ranganai Katsande, 44, Madzudzu Mudzimba, 37 and Misheck Zharu, 64.

Zharu has since been jailed for four years after being convicted on his own guilt plea following claims that he was the one who forged signatures on a document that was used to swindle money from the ministry.

Allegations against the group arose in December last year when they allegedly manufactured and submitted to the accountant-general’s office, fake invoices for payment in the names of Nico Orgo (Private) Limited and Pioneer Hibred (Private) Limited. It was later established that the companies were nonexistent.

The court heard the accused faked two transactions, and deprived the ministry of $729 345.

The offence only came to light on January 15 this year when the Agriculture ministry requested the Finance ministry to release funds to Reapers (Private) Limited, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company and Windmill (Private) Limited, but was surprised to learn that the bank balance was insufficient to meet the payments.

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