Chombo saga sucks more victims

HARARE – The corruption storm raging around former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday sucked in more victims who were denied bail by Harare magistrate Josephine Sande.

The former Home Affairs minister is currently awaiting commencement of trial on December 8 while behind bars.

Yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing deputy director valuations Rejoice Pazvakavambwa and the ministry’s former chief valuations officer Lazarus Chimba appeared in court charged with contravening section four of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The duo was said to have prejudiced the Harare City Council (HCC) and facilitated the transfer of council property worth $900 000 into Chombo’s name.

It is the State’s case that Pazvakavambwa and Chimba, using their positions of influence as public officers, wrote to HCC directing that one Aloise Ndaziva Chimeri be given title deeds to a Glen Lorne property, which had been illegally sold to him by Chombo.

Chimba in connivance with Chombo, Psychology Chiwanga, Iben Francisco, James Chiyangwa, Theresa Chenjerayi and Elias Choto authored a document dated June 13, 2008 to HCC indicating that he had no objection to a double transfer of the property in Glen Lorne to Chimeri.

Francisco, Chiyangwa, Chenjerayi and Choto are still at large.

It is also the State’s case that Chimba also influenced HCC to illegally get compensation to the same piece of land, which had been sold by Chombo.

As for Pazvakavambwa, the court heard that she authored a document dated June 2004 to HCC confirming that the property had been sold to Chombo.

Furthermore, Pazvakavambwa was said to have instructed Franscisco to transfer the said property into Chombo’s name.

Allegations are that by so doing, the two accused acted contrary and inconsistent with their duties as public officers as their actions had the effect of showing favour to Chombo and Chimeri.

HCC was prejudiced of $900 000 and nothing was recovered.

A report was made to the police on November 23 and investigations led to the arrest of Chimba and Pazvakavambwa.

The State opposed bail, arguing the seriousness of the offence and the stipulated sentence if convicted could see the accused absconding to evade prosecution.

The State also argued that the current political situation was not favourable for the defendants’ safety and it was therefore proper for the accused to be remanded in custody.

On Tuesday, former HCC director of works and urban services Chiwanga, appeared in court facing charges related to Chombo’s three counts of corruption.

Meanwhile, Chombo’s lawyer — Lovemore Madhuku — on Wednesday said he was filing a bail appeal at the High Court, after his client was remanded in custody earlier this week.

Madhuku told the Daily News that the matter could be set down for a hearing today.

“The learned magistrate misdirected himself in law in failing to find that ‘compelling reasons’ demanded by section 50(1)(d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 had not been established by the State, particularly in that: There was neither evidence nor any other basis from which it could be said that appellant was likely to abscond.

Chombo, who is facing corruption charges, remains in remand prison after Harare provincial magistrate Elisha Singano denied him bail on the basis that he could use his networks to flee the country.

The former minister is facing charges of criminal abuse of office, contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act and fraud with the State saying his activities prejudiced government of $3,6 million.

If convicted of the charges Chombo faces up to 55 years behind bars.