Thursday, 23 July 2020

MAGISTRATE SLAMS STATE FOR TAKING GOMBA TO COURT LATE


THE State has been ordered to thoroughly investigate and give a comprehensive report on why police take suspects to court late, especially in the afternoon.

Harare regional magistrate, Mrs Bianca Makwande, yesterday expressed displeasure in the police’s conduct, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This followed the taking to court of Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba for the afternoon session for his initial appearance in a matter involving criminal abuse of office.

Mrs Makwande was forced to defer the matter to today for Gomba’s bail application.

“My hands are tied because of the lockdown regulations and I cannot hear the matter today (yesterday),” said Mrs Makwande.

The State led by Messrs Jonathan Murombedzi and George Manokore, undertook to investigate the delays and give a report on Gomba’s next remand date. 

Gomba, through his lawyer Prof Lovemore Madhuku, complained against the police’s conduct saying it was meant to make sure that he spends a night in remand prison.

“We came in the morning and we were told that they wanted to take the papers to their head office to make some changes,” said Prof Madhuku.

“We waited and when they came back at around noon, we noted that there were no changes that were made.

“We believe all was done to make sure that accused spends the night at remand prison because they know they have a weaker case against him.”

Circumstances leading to Gomba’s arrest are that sometime last year, he allegedly connived with his accomplices, who are yet to be accounted for by police, and altered an approved layout plan belonging to Youths in Business Housing Trust.

Gomba and his accomplices, in so doing, allegedly converted State land into council land and allocated it to Taringana Housing Scheme, with the same plan number that was allocated to Youths in Business Trust. 

It is said, Gomba, in his capacity as the ceremonial mayor, originated a memorandum dated February 18, 2020 saying the plan for Taringana Housing Scheme had been approved and council should survey the said piece of land.

The court heard that the letter was misleading and inaccurate since the same plan had been issued and approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to the Youths in Business Housing Scheme.

Plans to proceed with the piece of land in question had been set aside by the Town Clerk, but Gomba disregarded such advice, it is alleged.

The State alleges that Gomba acted beyond his powers as a ceremonial mayor.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) inspected the piece of land and noted that 40 percent of it was a wetland and recommended that the part be left out.

Gomba allegedly went on to demarcate the wetland, in violation of the EMA recommendation. His actions were said to have shown favour to Taringana Housing Trust and disfavour to Youths in Business Housing Scheme. Herald

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