HomeNewsZvimba RDC officials trial finally kicks off

Zvimba RDC officials trial finally kicks off

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BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

The trial of Zvimba District Rural Council (RDC) chief executive Peter Hlohla and former town planner Takura Mabaya, who are facing fraud and criminal abuse of office charges, finally took off on Tuesday with the duo pleading not guilty.

The trial had been postponed on several occasions.

Hlohla (41) and Mabaya (34) yesterday pleaded not guilty of illegally allocating land for residential stands in Mt Hampden when they appeared before magistrate Bianca Makwande.

Hlohla is represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri and Mabaya by Dumisani Mtombeni.

The State represented by George Manokore led evidence from Charles Gwada, a former executive officer for State land division in the Local Government ministry.

Gwada is also implicated in the corrupt activities, but is testifying as a State witness.

He told the court that he received some documents in December 2016 from Zvimba RDC consisting of a lease agreement, recommendation letter for title deeds and other documents, stating that the stand in question had already been paid for.

Allegations are that on March 7, 2016, Zvimba RDC corruptly originated a letter signed by Mabaya for Hlohla to the secretary for State land in the Local Government, requesting to be allocated an open space on the remainder of Haydon Farm, Mt Hampden area for residential purposes.

The State alleges that on March 7 that same year, the Department of Physical Planning indicated that change of use of the open space would contradict the layout plan, as Haydon township was not yet fully developed, hence the application for change of use was not successful.

It is further alleged that on November 14, 2016, Hlohla and Mabaya corruptly sold the piece of land to Obrim Petroleum Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd.

The State alleges on December 20, the duo in apparent show of favouritism, applied to the Department of State Land for processing of title deeds for the same stand. The letter was signed by Mabaya for Hlohla.

Records show that the land is owned by the State as a public open space and had not been handed over to Zvimba RDC.

The State alleges that Hlohla and Mabaya did not get approval to sell the stand. The two, with the help of a Local Government ministry official, acquired a fraudulent title deed for the stand.

They allegedly forged the signature of the deputy director State land to facilitate issuance and granting of the deed.

The matter was postponed to April 16 for trial continuation.

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