SUSPENDED Gweru Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi, his deputy Artwel Matyorauta and Town Clerk Daniel Matawu’s bid for freedom has hit a brick wall after a court said they should stand trial on May 12. The three appeared in court on Friday and declined to be placed on further remand after their trial failed to kick off as investigations are yet to be concluded.
A new trial date for the three, who are facing charges of criminal abuse of office for allegedly defrauding council of over $8,000, was provided. However, through their lawyers, Reginald Chidawanyika, Artwell Chinamatira and Brian Dube, the three asked that the trial must proceed by way of summons or alternatively an earlier trial date (April 27) should be provided.
Chidawanyika said his clients, who are each on $200 bail, have proved that they are not a flight risk since they had surrendered their passports. Placing them on further remand infringes on their constitutional rights, he added.
“I ask the court to remand my clients to an earlier date or remove them from remand because they have proved that they are not a flight risk since they have surrendered their passports,” said Chidawanyika.
Provincial magistrate Phathekhile Msipa turned down the request saying the investigating officer needed time to conclude investigations. Prosecuting, Lloyd Mavhisa alleged that between July 31,2013, and June 30 last year, the three connived to abuse rate-payers’ funds to meet expenses for their private activities and functions.
“During that period the accused persons made a payment of $1,875 to Antelope Park and Resort and Fairmile Motel using rate payers’ funds to meet expenses for Morgan Tsvangirai and his entourage’s private function,” she said.
Khosa said the trio also made an unauthorised payment of $6,858 to Fairmile and Village Lodge using rate payers’ funds to meet expenses related to their personal and private business bringing the total to $8,733.