BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Defence ministry camp commander Laxwell Ngara yesterday appeared in court facing fraud charges after he allegedly produced fake documents claiming $306 135 as payment for cleaning services rendered to the ministry by Maids on Wheels (Pvt) Limited.
Ngara (51), who appeared before Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya, was granted $1 500 bail.
The camp commander, who was responsible for supervising contractors and the upkeep of Defence House, is the fourth official from the Defence ministry to be arraigned before the courts after Peter Muchakazi, Kunofiwa Mervyn Madondo and Simbarashe Zvineyi appeared in the dock on similar charges.
Allegations are that between March and June 2019, Ngara connived with Danison Muvandi, who is on the run, Muchakazi and Madondo, who are on remand, and misrepresented to their superiors that the Defence ministry had received cleaning services from Maids on Wheels.
The State alleges the trio sourced five fake invoices valued at $306 135 and originated minutes dated June 19, 2019 addressed to the director of finance and human resources, Muvandi, who is the owner and signatory to the Maids on Wheels account.
The accused persons then allegedly attached the five invoices to the minutes with instructions for payment without attaching the required award-of-tender letter specifying the job done and signed by the chairperson of the procurement management unit.
It is alleged on June 20, 2019, the trio reportedly posted the payment request to the chief accountant, who released the funds into Maids on Wheels’ bank account.
Investigations revealed that no requisition was raised by the procurement management unit for cleaning services and there was no tender awarded to Maids on Wheels.
Meanwhile, former Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) board vice-chair Idah Mupamhanga, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges, was yesterday further remanded to March 4 after the State indicated that it was waiting for the docket to be completed.
State representative Charles Muchemwa told the court that they would be in a position to provide a trial date for Mupamhanga by March 4.
Mupamhanga, who appeared before magistrate Mujaya, was represented by Brighton Pabwe of Samkange and Venturas Legal Practitioners.
Allegations are that on June 21, 2016, ZimParks, through its then commercial services director Tarisai Musonza, wrote to Mabalengwe Safaris, represented by Rodgers Madanhure, advising them not to renew their lease agreement for Matetsi Unit 1 — a hunting concession in Victoria Falls — which was expiring at the end of that year.
It is alleged that Mupamhanga, without a board resolution, unlawfully instructed the ZimParks legal department to prepare a memorandum of agreement leasing Matetsi Unit 1.
Upon receipt of the money, she allegedly concealed the transaction from the ZimParks board and transferred the money from her bank account into ZimParks’ account without disclosing the nature of the transaction.
It is alleged that in January 2017, Mupamhanga entered into another memorandum of agreement to lease 19 Zambezi Lodges to Adage of Success (Pvt) Ltd without the knowledge of the board.
She cited under-utilisation by ZimParks.
The court heard that in the same year, Mupamhanga called for a meeting which was attended by senior ecologist Roselyn Mandisodza and the then acting director-general Godfrey Matipano and told them that she wanted to venture into gold exploration inside protected areas to fund wildlife conservation.
Without the knowledge of the board, Mupamhanga allegedly instructed Mandisodza to get a quotation for a metal detector and the ecologist obtained a quotation and proforma invoice of $11 000 from Excelight Investment.