Top government official charged with criminal abuse of office

A TOP government official has been implicated in a suspected racket, where he facilitated the issuing of government service passports to vendors, church leaders, housewives and bus drivers, in exchange for bribes.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Suspended Foreign Affairs ministry acting legal services director, Enoscent Chiutsi, yesterday appeared before Harare magistrate, Nomsa Sabarauta, charged with criminal abuse of office.

The State alleges that the documents were meant to enable the beneficiaries hassle-free travel in and outside the country, as they would be considered as VIPs.

According to the State, on February 25, 2014, Chiutsi (56) authorised the issuance of a government service passport to a vendor, Sydney Sangura, after misrepresenting that he worked in the President’s Office.

The State alleges Sangura took the signed and authorised application form to the Registrar-General’s (RG) Office in Harare and was issued with a government service passport. The matter came to light when Sangura was arrested and in turn implicated Chiutsi.

On November 3 the same year, Chiutsi assisted Audrey Mhenyu, a bus driver, to obtain a government service passport, claiming he was employed in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry.

Mhenyu took the authorised documents to the RG’s Office and immediately obtained a government service passport. He was intercepted at Beitbridge Border Post, where he implicated Chiutsi, as the brains behind the scam.

Using the same modus operandi, Chiutsi. on November 5, 2014, authorised the issuance of government service passport to Apostolic Faith Mission pastor, Lloyd Masimbiri, claiming the preacher worked in the President’s Office.

When Musimbiri was arrested, he indicated that Chiutsi had assisted him to acquire the document.

On the same day, Chiutsi authorised the issuance of a passport to Shingai Masimbiri, who is a housewife, purporting to be an employee in the Foreign Affairs ministry. On her arrest, Masimbiri also implicated Chiutsi. Three of the beneficiaries, who have turned into State witnesses, told the court that they each paid a $100 bribe to Chiutsi to obtain the special passport.

The trial continues today, with Chiutsi, who has denied the charge and is not represented, expected to testify.
Desire Chidanire is prosecuting the matter.