Maligwa’s trial kicks off
THE trial of Mutare City Town Clerk Joshua Maligwa who is facing charges of criminal abuse of duty committed during his stint as the accounting officer at Rusape Town Council kicked off last week with him entering a plea of not guilty.
Maligwa (46) is being jointly charged with outgoing RTC housing director Laurence Mushayabasa (47). Maligwa was represented by Mr Victor Chinzamba while Mr Taurai Khupe of Khupe Law Chambers represented Mushayabasa.
The pair argued the land in question was fraudulently sold to Opleeves Investments by RTC as it belonged to Makoni Rural District Council.
However Opleeves Investments director Mr Raymond Marova said he bought three industrial stands measuring 18 000 square meters from RTC. He also said RTC approved the company’s plans to develop a service station, motel and conference centre.
Mr Marova said when he approached council enquiring why they were repossessing his stands Maligwa wrote to him confirming that he was the rightful owner of the land. Mr Marova said he was shocked by Maligwa and Mushayabasa’s conduct to repossess and subdivide the land without his knowledge and consent.
“We bought the three stands for Z$85 billion and fully paid the purchase price of the land. We had three separates Memorandum of Understanding for each piece of land. RTC approved our plans for service station, motel and conference centre and we commenced construction. Then arose the issue of 70 meter road servitude, part of our land is within the 70 meters of Harare-Mutare and Rusape-Wedza highway. Council passed a resolution that they wanted to re-plan my stands so that we are compliant. There was no resolution to repossess and subdivide our stands but the accused persons went on to subdivide them.
“We approached council querying why they were doing this and accused one (Maligwa) wrote a letter to us confirming the ownership of the land but they continued to subdivide our land and sold it to other people,” explained Mr Marova.
State prosecutor Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira told the court that Maligwa and Mushayabasa violated Section 74 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23, which makes it criminal for public officers to abuse their offices and duties.
He added Maligwa and Mushayabasa abused their duty when they defied a full council resolution and went on to subdivide Opleves Investments’ three stands. Maligwa also bought one of the subdivided stands.
“On 30 July 2015 a regular full council meeting noted that Opleves Investments industrial stands were within the 70 meters of the road servitudes contrary to General Notice 466-2004 which prohibits new developments along the Harare Mutare highway within 70 meters from either sides of the road centre.
“In view of the General Notice Council through resolution FCO 7-07-15 resolved to re-plan the stands belonging to Opleeves Investments so that they do not encroach into the 70 meters servitude.
“Maligwa acting in concert with Mushayabasa who was the town planner subdivided the piece of land into smaller units for commercial purposes contrary to council resolution FC0 7-07-15 dated 30 July 2015.
“On March 5, 2017 Maligwa advertised the sale of commercial stands on the subdivided piece of land owned by Opleves Investments in the Sunday Mail and prospective buyers responded to the advert.
“Sometime in 2017 Mushayabasa acting in common purpose with Maligwa sold the subdivided piece of land to individuals and companies well knowing that the land belongs to Opleves Investments Pvt LTD.
“On 30 March 2017 Mushayabasa acting in concert with Maligwa allocated Maligwa commercial stand number 7711 Wedza TurnOff, Rusape measuring 1 331 square meters situated on the subdivided piece of land belonging to Opleeves Investments.
“Maligwa and Mushayabasa omitted to comply with full council resolution 07-07-15 which was their duty as public officers to do for the purpose of showing disfavour to Opleves Investments and favouring Maligwa by allocating him a commercial stand on a piece of land owned by Opleves Investments,” said Mr Mutyasira.
Magistrate Mr Shane Kubonera postponed the matter to March 27, 2018 for continuation of trial.
The state is expected to call RTC chairman Alderman Amon Chawasarira and his deputy Clr Evaristo Manyengavana as witnesses.