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By Nyore Madzianike
The court yesterday dismissed former Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo’s application for exception to fraud charges related to corruptly allocating land in Harare and Zvimba, but dropped five counts of criminal abuse of office charges he was facing.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje dismissed Chombo’s application for exception to fraud charges emanating from his housing cooperative, saying there was reasonable suspicion that he committed the offence.
It is alleged that between 2000 and 2015, Chombo, who was the Minister of Local Government, illegally caused home seekers to deposit money into Ignatius Chombo Housing Cooperative’s Agribank account.
Ignatius Chombo Housing Cooperative is believed to be his.
He allegedly misrepresented to people that the money was for land development purposes.
It is said that Chombo also misrepresented to the home seekers that he will allocate them residential stands at Kia Ora Farm under Zvimba Rural District Council.
The court heard that Chombo failed to allocate the stands despite people depositing money into the cooperative’s account.
His lawyers — Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Mr Tungamirai Muganhiri and Mr Munyaradzi Bwanya — had argued that the said cooperative does not exist and it was not registered with the Registrar of Cooperatives.
The court said the State had failed to clearly state how, during the same period, Chombo used his influence as the minister to allocate himself 125 commonage stands in Haydon Park and another five low density suburb stands in Philadelphia Farm in Harare.
Mr Mambanje, in his ruling, also said the State failed to clearly outline how Chombo allocated stands to his companies — Comverol Enterprise (Pvt) Ltd, Cayford and Cavford (Pvt) Ltd in Carrick Creagh Farm in Harare without paying for the pieces of land.
In his application, Chombo told the court that the said companies did not exist and that he was not a shareholder to any of them.
The court also excepted Chombo to another criminal abuse of charge where he was alleged to have sold State land and Order Farm to Sensitive Investments (Pvt) Limited. Chombo is expected back in court on June 30 for trial.