Stands Scam Lands City Director in Court

Acting Harare city planner, Fani Machipisa, yesterday appeared in court on allegations of parcelling out stands without following due process.

Machipisa (54) was arrested on Wednesday. He is facing two counts of criminal abuse of office when he appeared before Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna.

The State, led by Mrs Constance Ngombengombe, opposed bail, saying Machipisa was a flight risk and was likely to interfere with witnesses.

Mrs Ngombengombe called investigating officer Superintendent Moreblessing Gandinyaru to back her two grounds for opposing bail.

Supt Gandinyaru told the court that Machipisa was a flight risk and was likely to abscond given that he was facing a serious offence which attracted a custodial sentence upon conviction.

Machipisa’s lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, had earlier on told the court that he wanted the State to consider that his client had lost his mother that morning.

His client needed to mourn his mother who died at the age of 84 and that he was the eldest in the family.

The bail application hearing will continue today.

The court heard that in 2018 between June 19 and 22, Machipisa allocated fictitious stands in Mabelreign with an unknown layout plan to prospective home-seekers who were not on the City of Harare waiting list.

It is alleged that Machipisa, as the acting director of Housing and Community Services, deliberately took advantage of the absence of the director who was attending a week-long workshop to fast-track the allocation process so it could be done in that single week.

Upon the return of the director of Housing and Community Services from the workshop in Kadoma, Machipisa did not report the allocation, the court heard, and this was with the intent to conceal this development from him.

The purported stands 7246-7250 and 7253-7262 did not exist in the City of Harare stand number register and all processes were fast-tracked on the same day Friday 22 June 2018.

The court heard that the purported stand number 7249 was allocated to Knowell Katiyo who is said to have applied to join the housing waiting list in September 2005 when he was a juvenile aged 13, contrary to the City of Harare housing allocation policy.

On the second count, the court heard that sometime in September this year, Machipisa directed George Mukodzi, who is the district officer for Mufakose to halt work in progress at lot 2 of subdivision B of subdivision A of Willowvale Township, which was procedurally allocated to Youth in Business Trust by the State.

It is alleged that Machipisa ordered that an earth-moving machine which was busy carrying out development be stopped and leave the site.

He allegedly indicated that the documents that were given to Youth in Business by the local authority for land ownership were fake and that the land in question was owned by City of Harare and allocated to Taringana Housing Consortium.

The court heard that Machipisa indicated that there was a court order granted in favour of Taringana Housing Consortium, well knowing that Youth in Business had been given the ownership by the State as it was State land.

Meanwhile, two men also appeared in the same court facing fraud charges after they parcelled out stands belong to Youth in Business to unsuspecting home seekers, knowing fully well that the stands did not belong to them.

Nziradzinengwe Taurai (37) and Tatenda Selemani (37) were remanded in custody today for their bail application.

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