Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Chitungwiza Municipality director of housing Hazel Sithole yesterday appeared in court charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Sithole, in connivance with the municipality’s director of works David Duma, allegedly allocated a commercial stand worth over $30 000 to a local company, Metalhill Investments (Pvt) Ltd, without following due process.
Sithole appeared before magistrate Ms Learnmore Mapiye while Duma is already on remand facing similar charges.
Sithole was released on $500 bail with the State’s consent, coupled with some conditions.
As part of her bail conditions, she was ordered to surrender her passport and to report once a week to the police.
She was also ordered not to interfere with investigations and to continue residing at her given address until the matter is finalised.
Prosecuting, Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that on May 6 this year, Metalhill Investments through one of its directors, Yeukai Mukucha, applied for a commercial stand at Chitungwiza Town Council to construct a service station and directed the application to the town clerk.
It is alleged that the town clerk then directed the application to Sithole for processing and due consideration in accordance to the Urban Councils Act and Chitungwiza Town Council Housing policy which stipulates that any commercial stand to be sold should be subjected to a competitive bidding process.
After receiving the application, Sithole allegedly forwarded the request to Duma to plan for, inspect and avail suitable land for a service station.
The court heard that Duma was supposed to invite the department of physical planning from Local Government, Public Works and National Housing; Environmental Management Agency and Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority to assess the suitability of the site identified by Metalhill Investments.
After the assessment, it is alleged he was expected to submit a report on the findings to Sithole and write a memorandum stating whether the land was available and suitable for the construction of a service station.
It is the State’s case that Duma did not have the land inspected for its suitability.
Instead of following due process, Duma allegedly generated a memorandum to Sithole availing the land, stand number 10606 St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, for allocation.
Sithole, the State alleged, was also supposed to advertise the stand twice in a local newspaper and subjecting it to competitive bidding but did not do so.
She allegedly allocated the said stand to Metalhill Investments by signing an offer letter and directing the company to pay at least 30 percent of the total price of $31 636,50 which the company accepted and paid $13 000.
According to the State, the duo did not comply with council resolution that directed them to follow due process as required at law.