Ex-minister's graft trial sent back to Gokwe

HARARE - Harare magistrate Estere Chivasa has referred former Midlands minister of State Jaison Machaya to Gokwe Magistrates’ Court for a possible furnishing of a trial date on August 6.

Machaya appeared before Chivasa yesterday facing charges of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly demanded 1 000 residential stands from Gokwe Town Council, which he allegedly later sold.

The State, represented by Clemence Chimbari, opposed the defence application to have the matter heard in Gweru saying the accused persons had initially consented to the case being heard in Harare.

But the defence counsel for  Machaya, 65, who is being charged together with the Midlands provincial planning officer Chisainyerwa Chibururu, 47, told the court  that their clients did not consent to have the case moved from Gokwe to Harare and in that same token, do not want to be stampeded into a trial in a wrong forum.

“We were made to believe that the transferring of the case from Gokwe to Harare was only for the purpose of remand.

“The accused persons were arrested in Gokwe, all the witnesses are from Gokwe and this court has no jurisdiction to preside over this case and I pray that the trial be moved back to Gokwe as there is a regional court which can handle the matter,” Alec Muchadehama said.

Chivasa went on to rule in favour of the accused, reasoning that her court had no jurisdiction to handle the matter.

“This court has no jurisdiction to entertain this matter because the accused person is not consenting,” Chivasa ruled.

Chivasa then referred the case back to Gweru for a possible furnishing of a trial date on August 6 which is expected to be held at Gokwe Magistrates’ Court.

It is the State’s case that sometime in 2011 and 2017, Machaya, who at that time was the governor and Resident minister for Midlands, allegedly used his official powers and acquired 1000 residential stands out of 3000 that were available in Mapfungautsi which is under Gokwe Town Council administration contrary to government policy which allows the ministry of Local Government to acquire just 10 percent of the total stands as commonage.

The State alleges as a result, Gokwe Town Council lost revenue in respect of 700 stands.

It is alleged Machaya further imposed a land developer known as Striations World Marketing Property Developers to service and sell the stands without following proper tender procedure.

The value of the stands is $900 000 and they were recovered.

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