FORMER Midlands Provincial Affairs minister, Jason Kokerai Machaya who stands accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly demanded 1 000 residential stands from Gokwe Town Council and later sold them, has successfully challenged the State’s decision to move his trial to Harare.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Machaya (65), who is being charged together with the Midlands provincial planning officer, Chisainyerwa Chibururu (47), successfully won the bid to be tried in Gokwe when he appeared before magistrate Estere Chivasa yesterday.
Machaya and Chibururu were represented by Alec Muchadehama, Ambrose Dururu and Ashly Mugiya.
Muchadehama told the court that his client never consented to have his case moved from Gokwe to Harare. He said the State misrepresented to them that they wanted to jointly charge Machaya and Chibururu with other accused persons from Harare’s planning department, the Surveyor General’s office and Ministry of Lands.
Muchadehama further said they were made to believe that the case transfer was only for purposes of remand hearing.
“We were made to believe that the transferring of the case from Gokwe to Harare was only for the purpose of remand.
The accused persons were arrested in Gokwe, all the witnesses are from Gokwe and this court has no jurisdiction to preside over this case. I pray that the trial be moved back to Gokwe as there is a regional court which can handle the matter,” he said.
The State, represented by Clemence Chimbari, opposed the defence’s application saying the accused persons had initially consented to the case being heard in Harare.
But Muchadehama told him to stop arguing on behalf of the accused persons, saying his clients did not want to be stampeded into trial in a wrong forum.
Magistrate Chivasa, later, ruled in favour of the accused persons, saying the matter was outside her court’s jurisdiction.
“This court has no jurisdiction to entertain this matter because the accused person is not consenting,” she said.
Chivasa then referred the case back to Gweru for a possible furnishing of a trial date on August 6, with the trial expected to be held at Gokwe regional court.
Allegations are that sometime in 2011 and 2017, Machaya, who at that time was Governor and Resident minister for Midlands, allegedly used his official powers to acquire 1 000 residential stands out of the 3 000 that were available in Mapfungautsi, which is under Gokwe Town Council administration.
This was said to be contrary to government’s policy which permits the Local Government ministry to acquire just 10% of the total stands as commonage.
The State alleges that as a result Gokwe Town Council lost revenue in respect of 700 stands.
It is alleged Machaya further imposed a land developer known as Striations World Marketing Property Developers to service and sell the stands without following proper tender procedures.
The value of the stands is $900 000 and the amount was recovered.