Fungai Jachi Court Reporter
Chitungwiza South legislator Christopher Chigumba’s application to refer the matter in which he is accused of defrauding Government of $157 274 to the Constitutional Court was yesterday granted by Harare magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo.
Mr Makomo said the matter had some constitutional concerns and only the Constitutional Court could resolve them.
“If the application was only based on the need for a speedy trial, I would have thrown it away when it was made,” he said. “However, I do agree with the concerns of the defence counsel that the accused might not have a fair trial considering that the actual people who were present when the alleged crime was committed are dead.”
Mr Makomo said he was concerned that the State did not have credible witnesses to call to testify against Chigumba and it would not be fair on his part. Chigumba, through his lawyer Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, applied for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court on the basis that the State had taken too long to charge him of fraud.
Chigumba allegedly defrauded the then Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development of Z$6million equivalent to $157 274 in a botched land deal.
Prosecutor Mr George Manokore alleged that on December 24 1994, Chigumba indicated to Alex Shumba, his former business partner, that he was selling the said land at a cost of Z$1,6million.
They both agreed that Shumba would pay the money in instalments.
It is the State’s case that Shumba paid Z$251 000 to Chigumba on January 24 1995 and an agreement of sale was signed, prompting Shumba to occupy the farm. Shumba, the court heard, further paid Z$350 000 in the form of hundred cattle before giving Chigumba his vehicle, a Mercedes Benz which was equivalent to Z$350 000. He later realised that Chigumba owed Stanbic Bank Z$500 000, hence they were the ones in possession of the title deeds to the farm.
According to the State, Shumba paid off the debt and was given the title deeds.
In 1998, Shumba found out that Chigumba owed Scotfin Bank Z$200 000 and the bank had obtained a writ of execution against the farm and again he settled the debt.