FORMER Masvingo Urban MDC-T councillor Misheck Gapare has been slapped with an effective two years in jail for swindling two housing cooperatives of 50 residential stands worth about $200 000.
Gapare who was Ward 8 councillor and chairman for public works portfolio converted 50 residential stands received on the local authority’s behalf into his own use sometime in 2012.
Aleck Muchadehama of Mbizvo, Muchadehama and Makoni law firm represented the former councillor.
Gapare pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraudulently acquiring 50 residential stands before Masvingo magistrate Mr Langton Ndokera on Friday.
He was however, convicted due to overwhelming evidence and sentenced to two years on each count for fraud. Mr Ndokera suspended two years for five years on condition of good behaviour.
He ordered Gapare to return the 50 stands to Vashandi Housing Cooperative and Remainder of Victoria Ranch Consortium.
Delivering sentence Mr Ndokera said there were glaring facts that supported the State case which the accused could not contest satisfactorily. He said Gapare was supposed to act in a fair manner as he held public office at the time he committed the crime.
For the State Mr Tavonga Musina said in January 2012 Vashandi Housing co-operative Chairman Mr Goddard Dunira and Mr Wellington Mahwende of Remainder of Victoria Ranch Consortium pledged 50 residential stands to Masvingo City Council.
“The stands were supposed to be distributed to Masvingo City councillors and
council employees. Gapare then supplied a list containing names he claimed to be of councillors and council employees. It was then realised that on the list there were no council employees, neither were there councillors,” said Mr Musina.
Gapare took the 50 residential stands and converted them into his own use, Mr Musina said.
The court heard that after discovering the stands had not reached the intended beneficiaries, Messrs Dunira and Mahwende offered another 40 residential stands to Masvingo City as fulfilment of the promise they had made to the local authority.
The court heard that as a result Messrs Dunira and Mahwende suffered an actual prejudice of $200 000 and nothing was recovered.
The majority of MDC-T councillors in urban areas are involved in cases of underhand land deals with the latest being of Bulawayo City deputy mayor Gift Banda and four other councillors.
Clr Banda and his four colleagues have since been suspended on allegations of illegally parcelling and acquiring land. Other councillors implicated in similar scams are in Chitungwiza and Mutare. chronicle