Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The trial of former Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Jason Machaya, on charges of criminal abuse of office as a public officer after he allegedly unlawfully allocated residential stands in Gokwe, ended on Friday but the Gweru magistrates’ court will give the verdict on July 30.
Machaya is charged along with Chaisayanyerwa Chibururu. It is alleged Machaya allocated 17 799 stands to land developers, who in turn gave him 1 791 of which he sold 1 185.
The two denied the charges when their trial started last year before Gweru regional magistrate, Ms Charity Maposa, who has since been moved to Gwanda but their bid to be discharged at the close of the State case was rejected when the magistrate found they had a case to answer.
They sought a review at the High Court early this year of that rejection, but Justice Pisirayi Kwenda refused to interfere, paving way for the trial to continue with the pair being put on their defence. The trial ended on Friday, with both the defence and prosecution counsel, making their final address.
Defence lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama moved that the court should acquit his clients, arguing the State’s case was fraught with inconsistencies to secure conviction.
On the other hand, prosecutor Mr Clemence Chimbari told the court that the State had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant conviction of the pair. After hearing submissions from both counsel for the accused and the State, Ms Maposa reserved judgment to July 30.
Machaya and Chibururu, approached the High Court early this year to stop the trial after Ms Maposa threw out their application for discharge at the close of the State’s case. They felt the lower court erred at law and fact, in finding that they had a case to answer, describing the decision placing them on their defence as “grossly irregular”.
But Justice Kwenda dismissed the application after finding no exceptional circumstances justifying the High Court to interfere with a trial in progress before a court with competent jurisdiction.
It was also noted in the judgment that the prosecution had made a case on how Machaya and Chibururu corruptly discharged their functions as public officials.
Charges against Machaya arose when he allegedly allocated State land divided into 17 799 stands to land developers which was inconsistent with his duties.
The prosecution says Machaya did not have any lawful responsibility to allocate State land to the developers and entities as the allocation of the State land was the sole function and lawful responsibility of the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.
The court also heard that he received 1 791 commonage stands from the land developers and entities, which constituted 18 percent of the total stands on the allocated State land.
It is further alleged that Machaya sold 1 185 of the stands, which was also inconsistent with his duties as the stands can only be allocated and distributed by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.