Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Three Caritas Zimbabwe officials responsible for handling Roman Catholic donor funds yesterday appeared in court accused of squandering over $500 000 meant for humanitarian aid.
Caritas Zimbabwe national director Cornelius Hamadziripi (49) is jointly charged with finance administrator Dadirayi Nyamashuka (34) and programmes coordinator Wonder Mufunda (40).
They appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Noel Mupeiwa facing 189 counts of fraud, forgery and theft of trust property.
The trio is expected in court on October 12.
The complainant is Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) represented by its secretary-general Fr Fradreck Chiromba.
The court heard that ZCBC is the administrator of all Catholic departments, including Caritas Zimbabwe.
Caritas’ mandate is to provide humanitarian aid, execute emergency responses and relief work throughout Zimbabwe.
Prosecuting Mr Norman Tsarwe alleged that in 2013 Caritas Zimbabwe sought funds to assist victims of politically-motivated violence during the 2013 harmonised elections.
Their United Kingdom office released $30 400 but there were no incidents warranting use of the funds.
The emergency response committee requested the money back.
Hamadziripi only managed to transfer back $4 999, 20.
He allegedly sent a financial report justifying the balance and the report was signed by Nyamashuka and Mufunda.
The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) then requested a forensic audit.
It was established that the trio abused $25 000.
To cover up their tracks, they misrepresented that $12 800 had been distributed to ZCBC’s eight dioceses countrywide.
They allegedly created fictitious disbursement sheets but the dioceses denied receiving the funds.
The forensic audit revealed that the trio started abusing donor funds in 2009.
They allegedly awarded themselves advance salaries amounting to $174 004, 63 which they wrote off at the end of each financial year.
The court heard that between January 4, 2012 and January 31, 2014 on 60 different occasions the trio withdrew $208 586 from Caritas Zimbabwe’s three Stanbic Back accounts.
They purported the money was for the petty cash account before convert it to their personal use.
The court heard that in 2009 the United Nations office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) granted Caritas Zimbabwe $30 266 for cholera prevention and treatment.
The trio received another grant of $19 836, 98 from the Refugee Action and $19 777, 63 was never accounted for.
The trio allegedly also swindled $67 776, 24 meant for different humanitarian programmes.
Total prejudice was $525 410, 05 and nothing was recovered.