Corruption Scandals: Mayor back in court
by Geraldine Katunga
Senior Court Reporter
The ruling on the bail application by Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume, who allegedly corruptly allocated Westlea stands to his sister and his law firm’s secretary, is likely to be given today by deputy chief magistrate Mrs Bianca Makwande.
Mafume is being charged with criminal abuse of office.
Mrs Makwande was set to deliver the ruling on Saturday but a fellow magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro deferred the matter to today after she failed to attend court for the ruling because of other commitments.
The State led by Mr Panganayi Chiutsi opposed granting of bail to Mafume saying he was likely to interfere with witnesses, who are council employees.
Mr Chiutsi also argued that since the State had a strong case, Mafume was likely to evade trial once freed on bail.
To support the argument for refusal of bail, the State called the investigating officer, Superintendent Joseph Sirimhindi, to testify.
The senior police officer told the court that Mafume “holds the highest office at City of Harare and he is likely to interfere with witnesses there”.
“We have four witnesses whose statements are yet to be recorded including those of Edgar Dzehonye, Admore Nhekairo and Ms Koke. Since he has influence he is likely to interfere with witnesses.
“There is also overwhelming evidence against him which may cause him to abscond,” said Supt Sirimhindi.
Mafume, who was being represented by Mr Tonderai Batasara in his bail application, told the court that he had no access with the witnesses as most of them were suspended and in any case none reported to him.
“Some of the people whom he is saying will be interfered with have been suspended from council and are appearing in court,” said Mr Batasara.
“Those people have been barred from visiting their offices and there is no way they could be interfered with.
“The accused is a ceremonial mayor who does not work from Town House on a daily basis. He is actually a councillor and those people do not report to him.”
In March this year Mafume allegedly called housing director Admore Nhekairo asking him to allocate residential stands to his sister Rotina Mafume and to a secretary at his law firm, Rutendo Muvuti.
Mafume allegedly told Nhekairo that his sister had not benefited from any council stand but the court heard that when Mafume approached Nhekairo, council had closed interviews for prospective homeseekers.
Further allegations are that Mafume used his influence as a councillor to push other employees to allocate the stands.
According to the State, it was later discovered that Rotina and Muvuti were not on the waiting list despite each having been allocated stands with intrinsic value of an $219 938 and that the numbers on the waiting list used for them belonged to other people.