Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » Chigumba Cries Foul As Case Remains Unresolved for 14yrs

Chitungwiza South legislator Christopher Chigumba, who is facing allegations of defrauding the then Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development of Z$6 000 000 ($157 274), yesterday made an application for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court.

Harare magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo will rule on the application today.

Chigumba, through his lawyer Aocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, argued that the matter had to be referred to the Constitutional Court as the State had taken too long to finalise it.

“According to the Constitution in Section 69, everyone deserves a fair trial,” said A Magwaliba. “But in this case the offence allegedly took place 14 years ago and some of the witnesses have died. Moreover, the documentary evidence has been long destroyed.

“This, therefore, means that my client will not have a fair trial as there are no witnesses who were available when the alleged offence was committed.”

A Magwaliba argued that only those who were present when the alleged offence was committed had to stand as State witnesses.

“The only person who was present and who signed the agreement of sale was the late Minister (Enos) Chikowore,” he said.

“Unless the State is saying they can call him from his grave then the State has no case against my client.”

Prosecutor Mr George Manokore opposed the application arguing that the matter was only reported last year in July and so it could not be said that the State took too long to finalise it.

“This application is misplaced and it should be thrown away,” he said. “I feel that this is just a way to frustrate the court because this matter was only reported last year and he should not cry foul.”

Mr Manokore said the State was prepared to open Chigumba’s trial.

The State alleges that on December 24 1994, Chigumba indicated to Alex Shumba, his former business partner, that he was selling land at a cost of Z$1 600 000.

They both agreed that Shumba would pay the money in instalments.

It is the State’s case that Shumba paid Z$251 000 to Chigumba on January 24 1995 and an agreement of sale was signed, prompting Shumba to occupy the farm.

Shumba, the court heard, further paid Z$350 000 in the form of 100 cattle before giving Chigumba his vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz, which was equivalent to Z$350 000.

He later realised that title deeds to the farm were with Stanbic Bank as collateral for Chigumba’s Z$500 000 loan.

According to the State, Shumba paid off the debt and was given the title deeds.

In 1998, Shumba found out that Chigumba owed Scotfin Bank Z$200 000 and the bank had obtained a writ of execution against the farm and again he settled the debt.

On November 4 1999, Chigumba, the State alleges, sold the same farm to the then Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development for Z$6 000 000 which the ministry paid in full.

Chigumba then submitted an affidavit in which he claimed that he had lost the title deeds to the farm, yet he knew that they were being held by Shumba, the court heard.

The farm was later placed in the Government Gazette and subsequently the deed of transfer was endorsed in terms of Section 10 (3) of the Land Acquisition Act Chapter 20:10.

As a result of the misrepresentation, the ministry suffered an actual prejudice of Z$6 000 000 and nothing was recovered, the State alleged.

Source : The Herald