US cleric acquitted

A HARARE magistrate has acquitted Zimbabwe Conference of Sabbath-Keeping Church pastor, who was accused of fraud and forging an immigration receipt as proof of payment for a work permit, citing lack of evidence.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Dwight Eric Haynes (61), who holds an American passport, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared before magistrate Eric Kadye.

The church’s bishop, Abdulla Bader Ahomed and Zimbabwe Immigration Authority’s Nyatwa Bunya were the complainants in the case.

Ahomed had alleged that Hynes converted $1 500 church money meant for his work permit to his own use and then forged a Zimra receipt to cover up the offence.

In his defence, Haynes told the court that his work permit application was done by State witness Norman Joel and he was the custodian of all the receipts which the State alleges he forged.

Haynes also told the court that there was bad blood between him, Ahomed and Joel because he had managed to invest in Zimbabwe in two years, something the two complainants had failed to do in their 20-year stay in the country.

In passing ruling, Kadye said the facts in the case did not show any wrongdoing of fraud and forgery by the accused person as he was not the custodian of the receipts presented in court as exhibits.

Kadye said the State had the onus to prove its allegations beyond reasonable doubt and the principal immigration officer who testified confirmed the receipt was fake, but had no knowledge of its origin. Netsai Mushayabasa appeared for the State.

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