TWO of the three suspects linked to the abuse of government’s command agriculture inputs scheme were denied bail when they appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa on Tuesday and were remanded in custody to January 24.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Tafirenyika Mariga (43) and Hilda Mashamba (34) were denied bail after the State said they were a flight risk and likely to interfere with investigations, while their alleged accomplice Kumbirai Duku (36) was released on $200 bail after he told the court he only acted as a broker and facilitated the transaction.
The three were arrested last Thursday on allegations of fraud after they alledgedly diverted and sold 33,6 metric tonnes of fertiliser and 30 litres of herbicides allocated to 51 farmers in Makonde district, Mashonaland West province.
During bail application, Duku said he was only a commodity broker, who facilitated the sale of the inputs brought to him by Mariga and Mashamba.
Mariga also denied involvememt, saying he bought the inputs from the farmers’ representatives, who had come to collect the inputs from Harare. Mashamba told court that she was arrested after being found with Mariga.
The State indicated that Mariga was previously convicted on the same charge in Chinhoyi recently and had a pending case involving dishonesty at Bindura Magistrates’ Court, thus, could not be granted bail.
The 51 farmers were represented by group secretary, Christopher Manuwere.
The State alleges that on December 5 last year, the farmers were asked to travel to Harare to collect their inputs sourced under the command agriculture programme.
On December 9, Manuwere teamed up with two members of his group and went to Windmill Harare depot intending to collect their allocation of fertiliser valued at $16 800.
The State alleges the group then engaged Mariga, who agreed to transport the inputs to Shubhara Farm in Makonde for $650. He was allegedly paid a deposit of $400 on the understanding that the balance would be paid on delivery of the consignment.
The truck was allegedly loaded and Manuwere was issued with a delivery note showing that the truck was being driven by Ridzai Dambakushanda. After loading the truck, Mariga allegedly connived with Mashamba to steal the inputs.
Pursuant to their plan, Mariga phoned Manuwere advising him that it was no longer possible for them to travel in the truck.
Mariga allegedly told Manuwere and two others to go to Westgate roundabout, where he would pick them up in another vehicle.
The State alleges Mariga, Mashamba and the driver, Dambakushanda, then drove to Murehwa and gave the consignment to one Panganai Mariga, who is still at large, to sell it on their behalf. The suspects allegedly shared the proceeds among themselves.
Manuwere reported the alleged fraud at Harare Central Police Station on December 10, leading to the suspects’ arrest on January 4.