AN employee of a freight company yesterday told the court that a transporter hired to deliver water treatment chemicals from Forbes Border Post mistakenly transposed labels, leading to the alleged delivery of a toxic chemical, sodium cyanide, to Harare’s main water purification plant.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Felix Nyaruwanga of Freight World made the disclosure while giving evidence at the Harare Magistrates’ Court in the ongoing trial of four men charged with contravening sections of the Water and Environmental Management Acts.
Nyaruwanga dismissed the State’s conspiracy claims under cross-examination by the accused’s lawyer Nicholas Chikono, saying he had told the police detectives that the mix-up was a genuine human error.
He told regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya that the delivery of cyanide to Morton Jaffray Waterworks in July last year was prompted by the mix-up of documents by the transporters, LA Cargo. Nyaruwanga said Freight World, which was in the business of forwarding and customs clearing, sub-contracted LA Cargo to transport the consignment after it had been contracted by Cure Chem to clear the consignment at Forbes Border Post.
LA Cargo later transported the consignment to Harare where the mix-up of documents occurred, resulting in sodium cyanide being delivered to Morton Jaffray.
“From what we heard, it was a mistake,” Nyaruwanga said.
“It was raised by officials from Morton Jaffray that they had a wrong consignment erroneously sent to them.
“A container loaded with ammonium sulphate was sent to Bak Storage instead of Morton Jaffray and the one with sodium cyanide to Morton Jaffray.
“The proof of delivery note for ammonium sulphate was wrongly attached to the sodium cyanide manifest.
“It is normal that such a mistake can happen, but not always.”
After Nyaruwanga’s evidence, prosecutor Michael Reza indicated to the court that the State was only left with one witness, Police Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge, who was not available to give evidence yesterday. Reza said he had decided to abandon the other witnesses from MT&N (the company then contracted by Harare City Council to supply the chemicals) following the evidence of its director Alex Mashamhanda.
“State wishes to advise the court that in view of the attitude shown by State witness Mashamhanda, we are no longer calling any other witnesses from MT&N as they are turning hostile to the State,” he said.
“ I have advised my colleague (defence lawyer) that he can have them as his witnesses.”
The trial continues today.