Pair acquitted of defrauding GMB


LUPANE — Two suspects linked to a fraud case involving 72 bags of fertiliser illegally obtained from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) were last week acquitted of the charge for lack of evidence.

The two — Patricia Ncube, a GMB clerk, and Wellington Chimande — had the charge against them withdrawn before plea after the State failed to link them to the crime.

But the court remanded the other three suspects – two Veterinary Services Department employees Muchaneta Makwarimba and Leticia Kandawasvika and Maxwell Phiri — to April 3 for trial.

They are all out of custody on $60 bail each. Lupane magistrate Takudzwa Gwazemba ordered the trio not to enter the GMB premises and to report to the nearest police once a week until their case has been finalised.

The State had alleged between January 6 and 13 this year, Ncube (33), Makwarimba (29), Kandawasvika (29), Phiri (36) and Chimande (29) allegedly connived to defraud GMB of fertilisers.

To expedite the scam, Makwarimba and Kandawasvika drew up a fictitious list of government’s free farm inputs beneficiaries and gave the names to Ncube.

The alleged list included Chimande and Phiri’s names. Ncube allegedly released 72 bags of fertilisers to the pair who later loaded the inputs on a Bulawayo-bound truck which was carrying coal. Acting on a tip-off, police busted the syndicate and recovered the fertiliser.

Phiri and Chimande allegedly implicated Ncube, leading to her arrest.

Ncube in turn caused the arrest of Makwarimba and Kandawasvika.

Sanders Sibanda prosecuted.